Gnocchi with Pesto

February, cold, cloudy, dreary… makes me understand why bears hibernate.  They don’t like the month of February either. Kinda wish I could sleep through it too.  Plus, they get to eat a ton before they go to sleep….that I wish I could do too.

But since we are not bears, we must get through February.  And try to enjoy ourselves because on the other side of this horrid month is spring…and spring, well who doesn’t love spring?!?

So, what do you enjoy about February?  While I dislike this month, there are a few things that I do enjoy…

1…It is at least a shorter month.  When they created the twelve month calander they some how knew that this month would be the most disliked.

2…We celebrate Groundhogs and their shadow (or lack there of.)

3…Boxed chocolates.  On sale.  Post Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day itself…I don’t have an opinion about…I could take it or leave it.  I do love the chocolate sales though!

4…Superbowl.  Football, beer, parties, food…What is not to love.  If only we didn’t have to work on Monday morning!

5…Febru-Cherry…It’s a hometown thing.  It is awesome.

6…Spending too much money on out of season food (even though you know you shouldn’t) just so you can have a taste of summer.  And that my friends is exactly what I did this week.  My food of choice?  My winter splurge?  Basil.  I needed not only the taste of summer in my kitchen, but the smell too.  I am needy.

With my basil I made pesto.  Enough pesto to make this dish and then a little bit extra to freeze…to enjoy in a few weeks, if it lasts that long.

Gnocchi are great little Italian Potato dumplings that are lovely little pillows of carb goodness.  They are simple to make from scratch or can be found in the Italian section at any grocery…which is what I used here.  Yep, I used store bought gnocchi and I have to say, Trader Joe’s whole wheat gnocchi are darn good.  They stand up perfect to the pesto and the pesto coats the gnocchi like a dream.  Match made in heaven if I say so myself.  And the pesto…well I used a bit more parmasean cheese than normally called for, which melts when it hits the warm gnocchi…The garlic adds a bit of a punch….And the basil, well that just makes your house smell like summer….

P.S.  Feel free to use store bought pesto or frozen…

 

Gnocchi with Pesto

Serves 2 (main dish) or 4 (side dish)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Gnocchi
  • 2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 2 Cups Fresh Baby Arugula
  • 1/4 Cup Walnuts
  • 3/4 Cup Parmasean Cheese
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled (if you are not a garlic lover, decrease this amount to 1 or 2 cloves)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add about 1 teaspoon of salt to boiling water.

While the water is coming to a boil, make your pesto.  Combine basil, arugula, walnuts, Parmasean cheese, and garlic into a food processor.  Process until smooth.  With processor on, slowly drizzle in olive oil until you have a smooth and creamy pesto.  Taste and then add salt and pepper to taste.  Place about 1/2 of the pesto into the bottom of a serving dish.  Set aside.

Once the pesto is made, prepare the gnocchi.  Place the gnocchi into your pot of boiling water.  Cook until the gnocchi begin to float - this will only take about 2-4 minutes, so don’t wander off!  Once they are floating, drain the gnocchi and place in serving dish atop the pesto.  Toss to coat the gnocchi with the pesto.

Serve hot and enjoy!

 P.S.  the leftover pesto, store in a small plastic container and either store in the fridge for use within the next week or so or freeze for future use!

Creamy Pesto Pasta

Don’t you hate cleaning out your freezer?  I do.  I dread the day.  However, its better than cleaning out the fridge.  At least the freezer stops the growth of anything green and fuzzy….

I had to clean mine out this week.  There just wasn’t any more room.  No more room and I had no clue what was in there.  I needed to toss and organize.  Ugh…

So I tossed and organized and now, well its clean… for a little while. 

I did unearth a few things…I found some pesto!  I had a feeling I had some in there, but couldn’t have guessed where exactly.  Maybe I should clean the freezer out more often, or at least keep it more organized…Organization, I try … its just not my cup of tea.   You should see my closets – eek!!

But the pesto…I had to use it, like instantly.  I just couldn’t wait and I knew exactly what I wanted to make.  A creamy pesto sauce.  Absolutely delicious.  I couldn’t wait to make this and neither should you…  It comes together in a snap and will feed a crowd!  

 Let’s get cookin’!

 

Anything better than mushrooms sauteed in a bit of butter?  Nopers…So do it.

 

 

Dice up some tomatoes and set aside – mise en place style…

 

 

Heat cream and melted butter…Oh this is gonna be good.

 

 

Stir in pesto…Sorry for the overly green photoshop job on the above picture :/

 

 

Hi! there mushrooms, glad you could join us!

 

 

Whats a party without parmesan cheese?!?

 

 

While the sauce is coming together, prepare your pasta and during the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking add the snap peas and frozen peas to the party…

 

 

Drain when done…Look at all that green.  Definitely balances out the cream and butter, right?!?

 

 

Sauce the pasta…Sauce is a verb – just go with it. 

 

 

Don’t forget the tomatoes! 

 

 

Toss to combine and dinner is served!  How easy was that?!?

If you want, which I would highly recommend, and which I will be doing next time around, is add some grilled chicken or shrimp to the mix.  How good would that be?  If doing so, I would increase the sauce amount by about a quarter to half to coat everything well. 

Creamy Pesto Pasta

adapted from Pioneer Woman

Serves 4 to 6 hungry people

 

Ingredients

1lb Pasta – which ever shape you like

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

3 Tablespoons Butter

1/2 Cup Pesto

1 Cup Mushrooms – sliced

10 oz. package Frozen Peas

1 to 1 1/2 Cups Sugar Snap Peas

1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated

2 Medium Tomatoes – diced 

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  During the last 2 to 3 minutes of cook time add the sugar snap peas and frozen peas.  When pasta is done, remove from heat and drain. 

While the water is coming to a boil/pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.  In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt 2 teaspoons of butter and then add the mushrooms.  Saute mushrooms, stirring frequently, until tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In another medium sauce pan/skillet over medium – low heat, add the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of butter.  Cook until butter melts, stirring frequently.  Once butter has melted, add the pesto, mushrooms, and parmasean cheese and stir to combine.  Continue to cook until heated through.  Reduce temperature to low if the sauce is ready before the pasta is.  Stir frequently. 

Transfer cooked pasta, peas, and snap peas to large serving bowl or pan.  Pour the creamy pesto sauce over the pasta and add the tomatoes.  Toss to combine.  Serve!

 

Roasted Vegetable Panini

As of late, I have no desire to eat meat.  Its not that I am going vegetarian, but the thought of chicken, beef, or pork just does not sound appetizing.  What’s wrong with me!?!  I mean tuna doesn’t even sound great and I LOVE TUNA…seriously, I should probably have my mecury levels checked from the amount I have eaten in my life.  I have literally promised my mom to eat less of the stuff because of the mecury problem…sigh.  However, I am the girl who has turned her self orange from eating too many carrots…so when I like something I tend to go overboard. 

Ok enough about my weird food fixations.  So, what does a girl eat when the main course is no longer appealing?  She visits the produce isle with a new zeal. 

As of late, I have discovered the wonders of roasting vegetables.  I have tossed them with pasta, brown rice, or just eaten them plain.  That’s the great thing with veggies, you can eat plate fulls without feeling guilty for overeating.  Oh and you get all the healthy perks too!  Sometimes though, you want a sandwich.  Today I wanted a sandwich. 

 I have never made a sandwich without some sort of protein, I have ordered them yes, but made one, never!  Thinking back to those purchases, my favorite was the roasted vegetable panini.  Right up my alley, ya know with the roasting obsession and all.

I was planning on using ciabatta bread, but decided to use what I already had at home.  Ezekiel bread it is.  I think any hearty bread would work.  I don’t have a panini press so I dug out my George Forman grill and it worked like a charm.  A grill plate would work well too, using a heavy object to squish the sandwich.  Just remember to flip the sandwich, so both sides get grilled. 

I roasted enough vegetables to feed an army, so I forsee a few more sandwiches in my future :)  The next one, I might add mozzeralla to help congeal the whole lovely mess together.   Or you might try stuffing all the veggies into a warm pita!  Other than that I wouldn’t change a darn thing!

Ingredients

  • 2 slices Ezekiel bread or any hearty bread
  • 1 egg plant, cut into 1/4 inch slices – I salted these and left them in a collander over the sink for 30 minutes.  This pulls the moisture out of the eggplant that is said to be bitter (more so the larger it is)…this step can be skipped if no time!
  • 1/2 red onion, thin to medium slices
  • ≈ 1 Cup mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper (yellow or orange would work too), seeded
  • 1 Tablespoon of pesto
  • 1-2 Tablespoons softened cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

 

Directions

(seems long, but not really.  Just have to prepare vegetables before building sandwich)

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Once drained, place eggplant and red onions on baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 10-15  minutes, until eggplant is tender and onions begin to caramelize.  Remove from oven and set aside
  3. While they are in the oven,  place the mushrooms, garlic, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, and butter in a small saucepan/skillet and cook over medium heat.  Cook for about 10 -15 minutes or until they too are tender.  Stir often.  Set aside when done.
  4. Turn oven to broil (once other veggies are done roasting)
  5. Place bell pepper skin side up on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. 
  6. Broil for a few minutes until skin starts to blacken.  Keep close attention to oven when broiling.  It can go very wrong very fast!
  7. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes before removing the skin. 
  8. While the red peppers are resting, prepare the cream cheese spread.
  9. Mix cream cheese with pesto.  Simple.
  10. Heat George Forman grill, grill pan, or panini press.
  11. Build sandwich.  Spread half of cream cheese mixture on each side of bread slices.  Layer the vegetables onto bread…this will resemble a vegetable Jenga.  Pile as high as you wish.  Top with other slice of bread.
  12. Place sandwich onto grill and close lid, pressing down.  If you piled your sandwich like I did then some veggies will slip out.  Ah well!  Grill until bread becomes toasted and the veggies rewarmed through.
  13. Transfer to plate and cut in half.  Enjoy!

Presto Pesto

 

Cleaning out/rummaging through my baking cabinet I ran across a bag of walnuts.  At first I didn’t remember buying them and almost threw them out, but then my long term memory kicked in.  I had bought them recently for cookie I never baked.  I figured I had two choices…toss them in the freezer and again forget about them and waste about $10 or use them.  I figured using them was the best option.  But what was I going to make where walnuts were needed?  Brownies? Cookies? Muffins?  All the above?  Yes!  I have made all the above with walnuts and while I enjoy all of them I wanted to try something new.  What else uses walnuts???? parmasean

 

I pondered this question while I was making a pasta dinner and it hit me as I was chopping some basil….PESTO!  (I love how random things just pop in my head long after I first contemplated them)  But I have never made pesto, only enjoyed it.  No time better than the present right?

Pesto is normally made with pine nuts (my knowledge gleamed from watching too much food network), but walnuts are a nice variation.  With the aid of my food processor (blender works too), a quality control spoon, and the basic pesto ingredients I whipped up some pesto that made me going back for more.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups basil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3/4 Cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 Cup walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions 

Place all the above ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until a paste forms.  If it is too dry, add more olive oil drop by drop until desired consistency is created. 

 

* It can be frozen, just put a layer of oil on the pesto before tossing in the freezer

* It is great on pasta, scrambled eggs, and as a sandwich spread.  Yum!