Kathleen Christie’s Pesto Pasta

[Photo by Diane Hu]

[Recipe and words by Kathleen Christie]

Pasta salads… hearty and fun and so versatile!  Similar to the anticipated crowd at Slideluck at Photoville last week, I presumed!  And, so inspired, I plucked flavors from my kitchen that would evoke the community warmth this whole Photoville thing was inspiring:

 

Pesto:

3/4 cup pine nuts or coarsely chopped macadamia nuts (6 ounces)

5 cups basil leaves, chilled and perfectly dry

6 garlic cloves, quartered.. I mean if you have 8 or 9…  I may have used 10!?

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sealing

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Equipment:

Mortar and Pestle (or Cuisinart or blender)

Method:

Toast the nuts on a baking sheet for about 4 minutes, or until lightly browned in a 400 degree oven – watch them… nothing happens… nothing happens…. Oh! Pop of color – pull ‘em out!

Coarsely chop the basil leaves. In a large mortar, combine the basil and garlic and pound to a coarse paste (so, the mortar really makes it, but Cuisinart works…) . Add the nuts and pound until a smooth paste forms. Stir in the Parmesan, then 3/4 cup of the olive oil. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour into ice cube tray and pour a little olive oil on top to seal. Freeze!

Ok, and a little cheat for time crunches… I have, in the past, grabbed  a lil’ ol jar of Classico’s jarred pesto – amazingly great for a jar off the shelf!

 

 

Pesto Pasta:

1 lb box Gemelli (then I had another one half done that I tossed it ‘cause, well, I didn’t think it would go to waste!)

4 cubes of pesto (see above for pesto recipe) (you could use more… if you know you have a pesto loving crowd)

½ cup of sundried tomatoes in oil – chopped (I usually use the dry ones, but for this, the extra moisture proves useful!)

1 red onion, chopped

1 frozen package of peas

6 hot Italian sausages, loosely cut lengthwise and then again into half inch chunks

About 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup grated parm

 

Method:

Boil water; add pasta – strain when al dente!

Once you strain the pasta, you can use the same pot to simmer up your peas.

Meanwhile, heat EVOO in large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat.  When hot, toss in chopped onion, stirring and tossing and letting sit for a while – maybe 12-15 minutes? – until a few pieces are just browning, most are translucent – bringing them just to the sweet side and eradicating any raw onion flavor (I love it, but it just wasn’t what was being looking for in this dish).  Toss in sausage on top of onion, using a wooden spoon to continue breaking into bits as it cooks.

You’ve likely strained the pasta at this point, so while hot, stir in the pesto, the chopped sundried tomatoes and the peas.  Once the sausage is cooked through, you’ll likely need to extract some of the fat that has cooked out of it – but not all!  Just take a few paper towels and sop up a bit of the grease, and then add the onion and sausage to the pasta mixture.  Mix for even distribution and sprinkle with parm and serve!

 

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