I am constantly looking for recipes that I can make easily on a weeknight and that everyone in the family enjoys likes to eat. Before I had kids, I really enjoyed listening to The Splendid Table on NPR during my commute home from teaching high school Spanish, and I fell in love with their chopping board pesto recipe (which you can find here). I love the nutty flavor the pistachios bring to the pasta, and overall simplicity of the meal. And- it’s a one pot meal! Unfortunately, since there is quite a bit of green onion in the original recipe, the flavor is a bit too strong for my
lovely picky children. I set out to modify the recipe, and then told the kids it was like a gourmet macaroni and cheese- and they bought it! Score for a family friendly recipe that is also super yummy. Here’s how to make it.
Yield- 4-6 servings
For the pesto
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 tight-packed cup spinach leaves
- 4 tight-packed tablespoons fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons red onion
- 1/3 cup shelled salted pistachios or almonds
- 2 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
For the pasta
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups macaroni
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 8 cups boiling salted water
- 1 TB olive oil
- 2 TB fine chopped red onion
Start by boiling the water. While it’s boiling, you can start to create the pesto. On your cutting board place the salt and pepper in the middle, and put the garlic cloves on top. Fine chop the garlic while mixing it with the salt and pepper. Next you will pile the basil, spinach, and red onion, and continue to chop, blending chopping until everything is very fine. Add the pistachios to the mix, and chop them coarsely. Your final step is to blend in the olive oil right onto the board with the rest of the ingredients.
Once the water is boiling, add in your pasta and cook for 10-11 minutes.
Before draining the pasta, set aside about one cup of the pasta water. You will use this to finish the pesto. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
In the same pot where you cooked the pasta, add 1 tb olive oil and the rest of the fine chopped red onion. Saute the onion for about a minute, stirring constantly. Add the pesto- and just get it to warm. The language from the original recipe says “Warm it for only a few seconds over medium heat to let the flavors blossom—do not cook it.” (I love that phrase!) Add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and then stir in the pasta and cheese. Let the cheese melt a big more if you like. You can add more pasta water if it seems too dry. We serve with lemon garlic shrimp and a super food salad.
I love this recipe because it is super yummy, but also because it can be eaten hot or cold, so it’s perfect for a picnic. It saves well in the fridge and only gets better with age. Buen provecho- yum!
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