Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You don't need a Boiled Dinner this St. Patrick's Day!

Because I found the perfect green dinner dish to make instead, and it's both easier and healthier! Whenever I see recipes I like online I send them to myself and store them in a "recipes" folder in my email account - that way if I'm in the mood to try something new I can go right to this folder and find a recipe that at one point, sounded good to me already! I invited my coworker over for dinner last night and went straight to this folder to try and find something kind of quick and light for us to make. I would also like to point out that this is the coworker that found my apartment for me - so it was fun to say thanks and show her the new place!

In my wonderful folder of "recipes" I scrolled down to the oldest emails I had sent myself and found this Rachel Ray recipe that I've been wanting to make since July of 2009 apparently - "Spring Baby Artichoke and Spinach Pesto Pasta." I'm not sure if I saw her make it on one of her shows or just stumbled upon it online, but wherever I found it, I'm glad I did! As usual, I changed the recipe up a bit - so here is the link to the original in case you trust Rachel Ray more than me!

Artichoke and Spinach Pesto Pasta
2 cups (dry) rotini pasta (I used wheat)
4 cups baby spinach, divided into 2 (2 cups each)
1/4 cup shelled nuts (I used a mix of walnuts, almonds and pistachios)
1 cup chicken stock, divided into 2 (1/2 cup each)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more to top the dish at the end!)
Dash of ground nutmeg
Zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon (about 5 TB if you're using bottled lemon juice)
Salt and Pepper
4 TB olive oil, divided into 2 (2 TB each)
1 can artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup broccoli, chopped into bite size segments

The swirly rotini pasta does a great job holding up to the thick pesto - and the pesto gets in all the little rivets of the pasta - Rachel Ray suggested a penne, but I disagree!

1. I find it helpful to get all of my ingredients chopped, measured and ready BEFORE I start cooking. Otherwise I sometimes lose track of what I've added already or what step I'm on - particularly if I'm trying a new recipe. This is why Step 1 in this recipe is ... measure out and get all of your ingredients ready!
2. Make the pesto: In a food processor blend together 2 cups of the baby spinach with the nuts, 1/2 of the chicken stock (1/2 cup), cheese, nutmeg, lemon zest and lemon juice, as well as a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. If your food processor is small (like mine) - just add a little of the spinach at at time because it will blend down but at first it will seem like a lot of spinach and may not puree well. Once these ingredients are all pureed together, with the processor running, stream in 2 TB of olive oil through the little hole on top.
Did someone say St. Patrick's Day?!
Your pesto is done!
3. Large pot of salted water - bring to a boil and add your pasta to cook. Be sure to cook to al dente because you'll add the cooked pasta to a pan with all of the other ingredients as a last step, which will allow the pasta to keep cooking and mushy pasta is the worst! (When you're draining the pasta - try and reserve a few TB of the starchy cooking water, which you can use to add to the pasta saute at the end if it seems to be drying out.)
4. While the pasta is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 TB of olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is heated you can add the artichokes and garlic. Feel free to stir so that it doesn't stick, but you do want the artichokes to brown up a bit. (I find that using a nonstick pan in this step usually doesn't brown whatever you're trying to cook, so using a regular pan seems to work better.) Add the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock and cook until the artichokes are tender. At this point you should also be able to add your broccoli and it shouldn't overcook because you only have about 5-7 minutes of cooking time left before your meal is ready!
5. Add the rest of the spinach (about 2 cups) to the pan, stir a bit and then add the pesto and reserved starchy pasta cooking water (if you think it looks really dry or is sticking to the pan a lot). I think it's easier to try and stir all of this together first before adding the pasta back to the pan because once you add the pasta - your pan may start to seem too small to stir around without making a big mess on your stove!
6. Once the spinach is almost wilted, add the pasta, give it a final stir and an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese - and that's it, you're done! Even without a protein this dish was filling with the wheat pasta and the vegetables, but if you think you need it I think a grilled or sauteed shrimp would be a nice addition to the strong lemon flavor of this dish.

1 comment:

  1. The food was yummy, and the apartment is adorable! Yay!