Pesto is one of those sauces that is ever adaptable. Don't like basil? Try using spinach or arugula. Instead of pine nuts, opt for walnuts. Maybe even add artichoke hearts while you're at it. I've seen and tried many a variation, yet this recipe is my all-time favorite. I love the bright lemon flavor, the sweetness of the basil, the saltiness of the Parmesan cheese, and of course the raw garlicky punch. It's a dish packed with flavor and the bonus is in how quickly it all comes together in the food processor. The only cooking involved is boiling pasta water.
This dish is great for a vegetarian option (think: Meatless Monday), or for a heartier meal, I like to top it with some blackened chicken breasts, or grilled salmon.
Happy Food Processing! ;)
Weeknight Pasta With Lemon Basil Pesto
(adapted slightly from Giada de Laurentiis)
1 lb. dried pasta (I always love orecchiette)
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (aka pignolias)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 tsp. lemon zest (optional, and depending upon how lemony you want to go)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
Put the past water on to boil, and follow the package directions.
Combine basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest (if using) in the food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Next, put the food processor on low and slowly pour in the olive oil until blended and smooth. Add the Parmesan and pulse until everything is combined. Add salt and pepper to taste and then pulse again.
Drain the pasta and put it in a serving bowl. Add the pesto sauce and stir until all the pasta is evenly coated.