Pesto enhances flavor of pasta

DINNER TONIGHT

November 15, 2006|By Joe Gray | Joe Gray,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Most of us know pesto as the popular sauce of fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and grated parmesan cheese (walnuts and/or pecorino are used instead in some versions).

And so it is, but pesto also can refer to other sauces, writes Beverly Cox in Classic Italian Cooking for the Vegetarian Gourmet. The word merely means "pounded," which is how the sauce is traditionally prepared with mortar and pestle.

This pesto variation takes advantage of fresh chives. The sauce is used as a flavor intensifier - dotted on the finished dish instead of being stirred in.

Joe Gray writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe analysis.

Menu suggestion

Chive-pesto pasta

Romaine and escarole salad

Italian bread

Apple tarts

Chive-Pesto Pasta

Serves 4 -- Total time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 green onions, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, cut in 1/2 -inch dice

1 each, quartered lengthwise, cut in 1/2 -inch dice: yellow squash, zucchini

CHIVE PESTO:

1 bunch chives, chopped

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil

8 ounces angel-hair pasta

Heat a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet; add the onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 3 minutes.

Stir in peppers; cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers soften, about 5 minutes. Add yellow squash and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash begins to soften, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the pesto, pulse the chives, parsley, garlic and salt in a food processor until finely chopped. Pour in olive oil very slowly, with machine running, until a paste forms, about 1 minute.

Add pasta to boiling water; cook until al dente, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta; stir into skillet with the vegetables. Divide among 4 pasta bowls; dot each with 1 tablespoon of the chive pesto. Refrigerate remaining pesto up to 3 days or freeze for another use.

Per serving: 364 calories, 15 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 51 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams protein, 449 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber

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