Presto Pesto…

Until I started watching Food Network more and more I thought pesto was your basic basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese combo.  I didn’t realize that you could make anything pesto.  Spinach, arugula, red peppers, etc.  While in London I saw that one of the vendors at Burough Market, who was selling various dips and sauces, was selling Red Pesto, which I was super intrigued by.  It consisted of sun dried tomatoes, cashews, pecorino, etc.

After seeing this and coming home, I was inspired and decided that I was going to try to make it myself.  I’ve made Pioneer Woman’s Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce before and thought that the sundried recipe was somewhat similar.  Of course, I used what I had on hand.  Instead of pecorino I used Parmesan.  Instead of using cashews I used the pine nuts.  Remember that’s the key to budgeting and cooking, inspiration of recipes and using what you have on hand and making it your own.  🙂

I made this recipe during lent and yes, I’m only sharing this it now.  Instead of using regular pasta, I made it with Trader Joe’s tortellini.  I made this dish on a Friday and I wanted to put more carbs in our meal since we didn’t eat meat all day.  Feel free to make this with penne or fusili or any kind of pasta you’d like.  I definitely bumped it up a notched by adding some cherry/grape tomatoes and spinach.  I must say it was a success.  YUM!

TORTELLINI with RED PESTO

INGREDIENTS

1 package of Trader Joe’s refrigerated cheese Tortellini
1 jar of SunDried Tomatoes in Olive Oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
handful of basil leaves (you don’t want too many, as you’ll mask the tomato flavor)
Olive Oil
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, Halved
1/2 lb of spinach
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cook Tortellini according to package instructions.  Note:  If you’re using the refrigerated pack, this should take probably 5 minutes.  If you’re using dried it will take 10-15 minutes.

In a food processor, combined the sundried tomatoes with olive oil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, basil leaves.  Start pulsing.  Let the food processor go and start streaming olive oil in until its a desired consistency.  Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.

Prior to draining off the tortellini, reserve a cup of pasta water.  Add the Tortellini back to the pot and pour in red pesto.  If too thick, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce a bit.  This also helps the pesto become more of a sauce consistency.  Add in spinach.  When the spinach is wilted, add cherry tomatoes.

Top with a little bit of parmesan cheese and serve with garlic bread.

Super easy and super delish!

pita pizzas

For lunch, the easiest thing to prepare is a pita pizza.  Cut veggies, use leftover marinara sauce or pesto, deli meat…  Throw the ingredients on the pita bread, stick in the toaster oven until cheese is melted… DONE!  I blogged about making a salad pizza in my rocket post.  One of the easy things I prepare for my husband is a BBQ chicken pizza, especially if we have roasted leftover chicken (roasted leftover chicken has so many different possibilities… chicken nachos, banh mi sandwiches, chicken salad, bbq chicken pizza, chopped salad, etc.  its great to have in the fridge/freezer).

BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA

INGREDIENTS

Whole wheat pita or flat bread
BBQ sauce (whatever you have on hand to make ribs or pulled pork)
Hot sauce (if you’d like)
Roasted chicken, chopped or shredded
1 1/2 tbsp onions, chopped
3 tbsp reen bell pepper, chopped
5 grape tomatoes
2 tbsp colby jack or mozzarella cheese
cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Put pita/flat bread in the toaster oven or oven and toast for 5 minutes (not completely toasted).  Doing this holds the sauce and doesn’t make the “crust” soggy.

Meanwhile, heat a saute pan with oil.  When oil is hot, place onions into pan and when translucent, place bell peppers.  Sautee for 3 minutes.  Then add chicken to heat through for 2 minutes.

Spread the bbq sauce and hot sauce over the toasted pita/flat bread.  Then place onion/bell pepper /chicken mixture and tomatoes on top of sauce.  Sprinkle cheese on top and place in toaster oven/oven until cheese is melted.

Sprinkle the pizza with a bit of chopped cilantro.

Other options:

  • margherita pizza – olive oil or basil oil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.
  • chicken pesto pizza – pesto, chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese.
  • proscuitto pizza – pesto, proscuitto, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese.
  • greek pizza – roasted chicken, oregano, tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, feta cheese.  and then I place cucumbers on top after cooked.
  • pepperoni pizza – pepperoni, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese.
  • pepperoni pizza II – pepperoni, feta cheese, tomatoes, oregano.
  • bacon cheeseburger – satueed ground beef, chopped cooked bacon, cheddar cheese.

I could go on and on, but really you can do whatever you want.  These are just a couple of the ones that I whip up.