Spring Green Pasta with Parsley Walnut Pesto

parsley pesto pastaThe spring weather reached havoc here in the midwest with major flooding all around us last week. As I drive through my neighborhood I see piles and piles of peoples belongings in dumpster after dumpster, many homes are uninhabitable just a few blocks from me, one of them a close friend of mine. For some reason my house was spared and not a drop of water came in. I feel guilty and grateful all at the same time.
parsley walnut pesto Yesterday was a comfort food kind of day, something simple and easy but full of bright flavors. The key to this pasta dish is the parsley walnut pesto. Fresh parsley, toasted walnuts, grated parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon zest and juice all swirled with extra virgin olive oil, you could slather this on anything and it would be good!

zucchini stripsI decided to slather it all over spaghetti along with strips of yellow squash and zucchini, peas, asparagus and spinach. This is what I call cozy and delicious spring comfort food!
The pesto clings to the warm pasta, every bite has intense flavor!
Toasted walnuts and shaved parmesan tops this dish off, all you’ll need is a bowl and a fork!

Spring Green Pasta with Parsley Walnut Pesto
  • For the Parsley Walnut Pesto
  • 2 cups fresh parsley
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts
  • ½ cup grated parmesan or romano
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ to ¾ cup of olive oil
  • For the Pasta
  • ½ lb. spaghetti or linguine
  • 2 medium zucchini julienned
  • 1 yellow squash julienned
  • 1 lb. small asparagus cut on the diagonal
  • ½ cup of peas
  • a good handful of fresh baby spinach
  • reserved ½ cup of pasta water
  1. For the Parsley Pesto, place parsley, garlic and toasted walnuts in food processor bowl, pulse until well incorporated. Add in remaining ingredients and process until you get a nice smooth consistency
  2. For the pasta, prepare your squash first by making thin strips julienne style, you can do this with a mandoline, a julienne vegetable peeler, or by hand cutting planks and then making the strips with the tip of your knife like in the photo above. When finished, quickly saute until slightly wilted, a minute or two.
  3. Saute the peas and asparagus together in a little olive oil just until al`dente tender. set aside.
  4. Cook pasta and reserve some of the pasta water. When finished, toss hot pasta into a large bowl along with all the other vegetables, the peas, asparagus, squash and spinach. Add 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of the pesto, adding more if needed and to your taste. If you want to thin it out add some of the pasta water.
  5. The leftover pesto keeps well in the fridge.

Summer Veggie Slaw

Here’s another way to start using up all the zucchini and other veggies and herbs that your garden is producing, just gather everything together and make this Summer Slaw!
It’s quite easy to do if you have this handy julienne peeler, otherwise a mandoline slicer would work as well.
Note: I cut my squash in the middle so that when I used my peeler I wouldn’t have long “spaghetti” like strips but rather shorter ones like in coleslaw.
The ingredients I used were:

  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
  • Red pepper strips
  • Match stick carrots
  • Radish, sliced and cut into strips
  • Green onions sliced diagonally
  • Red onion strips
  • Very fresh shucked corn or precooked
  • Fresh picked basil and parsley
  • Torn spinach leaves

No exact amounts here, just use what you have and place everything in a big bowl like I do, tossing and adding until you have a nice color balance with your veggies and herbs.

For added flavor I tossed in strips of Parmigiano Reggiano, but you can get creative and use any aged cheese you like, Fontinella and Provolone work as well because the cheese can easily be cut into strips.
For my dressing I used a simple olive oil and fresh lemon juice but if you wanted something creamier that would work also.
All the ingredients are raw except for the corn, I had two cooked cobs leftover, but feel free to use super sweet fresh corn straight from the cob uncooked.
Gently toss everything together, taste for flavor adding salt and pepper and a little grated cheese if you like, then pile high on a platter.  If I had pine nuts I would have added them.
After I took the photo I added in some slivered almonds and a little crumbled feta.This was a great side dish to my cedar planked salmon!
The perfect summer meal on a very hot day!



Farfalle Pasta Salad to Welcome in Spring

We can officially now say that winter is behind us and spring has arrived, and this is the perfect salad to usher in the warm weather!  Farfalle pasta, tender asparagus, cherry tomatoes, baby arugula and pecorino and pepper roasted chickpeas.
I love the gourmet food section of HomeGoods I always find something good there, the minute I saw these cute colorful butterflies I knew I’d be making a pasta salad so I quickly grabbed a couple of boxes, don’t they just scream spring? The pasta is made with all natural ingredients too, red beets, red bell pepper, spinach and tumeric, no food coloring at all. 
Boil gently for 10 to 12 minutes then spray with cold water to cool down.
Slice cherry tomatoes in half add 1 crushed garlic clove, a healthy dose of olive oil, fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper, as it sits for a while the tomato juice will mingle with the oil and this will become your dressing.
For the roasted chickpeas I used one can that was drained and patted dry then tossed on a baking sheet with olive oil, lots of cracked black pepper, salt and a healthy dose of pecorino romano. Roast for around 15 minutes at 400 or until golden. 
I cut the asparagus at a diagonal and roasted them for a few minutes, tender but al’ dente. Just toss everything together adding more olive oil, basil and grated pecorino romano.
For this version right above and below I added in julienned zucchini and sliced olives for added flavor and texture.
Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
Buon Appetito