Yes, spring is arriving here in the frozen north. I can't wait to get digging into the dirt and get my garden planted for the season. One thing I grow in abundance every year is basil. I love pesto and can't wait for the height of summer when the basil comes into my kitchen by the bushel. I can eat pesto on anything from pizza to sandwiches to, of course, pasta. In anticipation of the coming gardening season I made a pesto pasta dish. This is not my usual pesto as the little containers of basil I find at the grocery are way too expensive to make a big batch. So I kicked this one up by combining the basil with baby spinach leaves. So, I guess it's a basil and spinach pesto. It was nicely flavored with the basil but the spinach tamed it down so it was not so over the top as I usually do it. I also added some chicken, mushrooms, onions and garlic to this dish along with some fresh tomato at the end. Here are more details of the recipe I whipped up for this dish. Oh, I didn't realize I was out of pine nuts and walnuts so I used almonds instead. Turned out pretty good.
BASIL SPINACH PESTO
1 package of fresh basil leaves (about 1/2 cup loosely packed leaves)
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/4 cup slivered almonds (walnuts or pine nuts are better)
juice of one lemon
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, about 1/2 cup (I didn't measure)
All the ingredients except the oil were added to a blender. The ingredients were processed while drizzling in the olive oil to make a loose sauce or paste. You could add a bit of water too if you want to cut down on the oil. A wooden spoon was carefully used to stir the leaves in the blender while processing. The pesto sauce was set aside until needed.
OTHER SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1 pound of sliced boneless skinless chicken breast
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
5 large button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 chopped fresh tomato
To a hot large pan (I used a wok, actually) was added about a tablespoon of olive oil. The onions and mushrooms were added along with a bit of salt and pepper and sautéed until fully cooked. The garlic was added toward the end of the cooking. The onion and mushroom mixture was removed from the pan and the chicken slices, seasoned with salt and pepper, were added. Once the chicken was cooked through the onion mixture was added back to the pan.
Meanwhile in a large pot of boiling water a 1 pound package of thin whole wheat spaghetti was cooking. Once it was cooked to al dente the paste was drained and added to the chicken and onion mixture. A splash of the pasta water was added to prevent burning in the pan. The pesto sauce and fresh tomatoes were added and the paste was tossed to mix everything well. This was turned out into a serving bowl.
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