On Tuesday night, I cooked myself a tasty dinner that came together quickly, thanks in part to the fact that I had homemade cheeseless pesto ready to go in the freezer. I put it in the fridge in the morning, and by the time I got home from work, it had defrosted. I don’t have a set recipe for my pesto—I just throw one bunch’s worth of locally grown basil, several cloves of garlic (this hasn’t come up yet, but I am a garlic freak too), and a sizeable handful of pine nuts into my food processor. I pulse to combine, then turn it on full force while streaming olive oil in through the top spout. When it “looks right” (totally subjective, I know) I season with salt and pepper, give it one more quick spin, and then transfer it to a container. It makes enough for one batch of pasta, and it keeps indefinitely in the freezer.
I generally just make it whenever I happen to haul out my food processor (usually to make hummus) and then throw the whole thing in the freezer. It can certainly be used right away, though. And if you don’t use all of it, the possibilities for leftovers are pretty much endless. Sandwich spread, cracker dip, pizza sauce, tofu marinade, vegetable topper, olive oil infuser…you get the idea.
I eat whole wheat pasta exclusively. You won’t see me touch white pasta more than maybe once a year, at a nice restaurant or someplace like that. At home, spaghetti is my preferred shape, for no particular reason, and I like it thin. It’s all personal preference.
To add to my pesto pasta, what else but beans?! Navy/cannellini/white beans pair perfectly with pesto.
After cooking and draining the spaghetti (and saving a cup of the cooking water—important!) I throw it back in the pot and mix in my pesto and the beans. I add splashes of cooking water as I mix, to thin out the pesto and help it stick to the pasta. (The water absorbs starch from the pasta while it’s cooking, and that starch in the water is what helps the pesto bind. That’s why the cooking water, not tap water, is necessary.) For mine, I ended up using about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
Voila! It’s really that easy. A sprinkle of nutritional yeast adds pizzazz and vitamin B12 to the finished product.
That last picture may be blurry, but hopefully you can see the deliciousness there. Oh, and–
I get to eat it all week, and I couldn’t be happier. And you know what? It gets even better as it sits in your fridge.
Yield: 6 servings.
Per serving (made with 1/3 cup average pesto): 317 calories, 5.9g fat (.7 sat), 59.9g carbs, 10.4g fiber, 12g protein.