Confession: Yesterday I had onion rings for lunch along with a smoked chicken sandwich on grilled sourdough, with tomato, red onions, jalapenos and cheddar cheese. Delicious! Healthy? Probably not the best choice. The point is that it is ok to eat your favorite foods once in awhile even if they aren't the best choice nutritionally. I must add that because I seldom eat fried foods, they usually sit heavy on my stomach and yesterday was no exception. You will find the same thing will happen to you if you become accustomed to eating less salt and less fatty foods. It is possible to change your taste buds. After all, I gave up Mountain Dew and no one would have thought that possible. Now I don't even like the taste of Mountain Dew and I once couldn't function without it!
Now on to my most requested recipe as promised. Years ago I took an Italian cooking class taught by a wonderful couple, the Formicas. He was from Italy, she was from Arkansas and good food was their passion. Over the years, I have used those recipes many times. I decided to go out on a limb one day and serve pesto sauce over pasta for dinner. My children were still quite young and I wasn't sure this meal would go over very well. My kids loved it! They liked it so much that my husband and I became burned out with pesto sauce. They even order it in restaurants and request it for every birthday dinner. The good thing is that pesto is incredibly easy to make and can be used in a variety of ways. If you grow your own herbs, its a great way to use basil. Here is Santo Formica's recipe for pesto.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup fresh basil leaves tightly packed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. pine nuts (or English walnuts)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (imported is preferred)
In a blender, add all ingredients except basil and cheese and blend at medium speed for one minute. Slowly add basil and blend for 2 minutes. Slowly add cheese and blend an additional minute.
Cook one pound of your favorite pasta al dente. Toss pesto sauce and cooked, drained pasta and serve immediately.
Variations: Substitute 2/3 cup fresh spinach leaves for the basil. I use spinach as it gives a milder flavor. I use the rest of the spinach to make a salad to serve with dinner. Pasta shells or twists work well to hold the sauce.
You can add grilled chicken or shrimp to the sauce as well for a heartier dinner.
I hope you will give this dinner a try. You can see that it couldn't be any faster to make and has many healthy ingredients. Also you can use pesto as a spread for sandwiches or appetizers. Try spreading pesto on small rounds of bread, topping with a bit of extra cheese and broiling for a few minutes till lightly toasted.
Happy Eating over the weekend. I will be at a swim meet with my daughter and transporting my son to football and a band competition.