By Lori Ross for Cooking Challenge One - Hot Vegetarian Pastas from Kathy Dismukes, Alexandria, VA.
I love this dish because it takes pesto to another level. The texture and flavor of green vegetables and lovely lemony bite transforms pesto pasta to a fresh summery dish! Unless I plan ahead and make it at home, I usually carry a couple jars of pesto aboard and just enhance them in this recipe.
½ cup pesto (homemade* or store-bought)
2 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Extra olive oil, if necessary
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
2 cups bite-sized green vegetables, such as fresh asparagus, green beans, zucchini, fresh or frozen peas or artichokes
1 lb pasta
Add lemon zest, lemon juice and cheese to the pesto mixture and mix; taste and add more olive oil and salt and pepper, as desired.
Boil water and add pasta. Cook until al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. A minute before the pasta is done, add the green vegetables to the boiling water. After a minute, drain the pasta and asparagus, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta and asparagus to the pot and toss with reserved pesto. Serve topped with a few grinds of black pepper and additional grated Parmesan.
*Homemade Basil pesto: Most homemade pesto consists of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan but you can use parsley, cilantro, arugula, spinach, kale or other flavorful green in place of basil and you can replace the pine nuts with walnuts, pecans, macadamia or cashew nuts with terrific results. For ½ cup of pesto: Grind in a food processor: 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute almonds or walnuts); 3 medium cloves garlic, 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (or other herbs or greens as indicated above). ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ grated Parmesan cheese and salt to taste.