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Pesto Orecchiette with Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes

September 27, 2011

We all know when you are trying to eat healthier and spend less money on food it just makes sense to cook your own meals. Most evenings during the week you can find me in my kitchen making supper. I love that I am able to control what goes on my plate and it really has helped budget wise.

This pasta dish uses ingredients that I usually have in my pantry and refrigerator. It’s a great meal to make when you are short on time but don’t want to order take-out. The spinach pesto is from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe I found a few years ago. I love it so much that I make a triple batch of it about every two months to store in the freezer. In addition to mixing it with cooked pasta, it’s perfect as a topping on grilled chicken or fish. You can even toss it with cooked vegetables or use it as a sandwich spread. Just don’t go overboard with the serving size or you will be getting too much fat due to the olive oil and parmesan.

I hope having this pesto in your freezer will help those of you struggling with the idea of cooking after a long day of work. I know how tempting it is to just give in and order take out on a weeknight (trust me, it happens to me too). Recipes like this are what keeps me from getting burned out on cooking all the time. What is your favorite meal to make when you don’t have a lot of time?

Pesto Orecchiette with Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes
Makes 4 servings

16 ounces orecchiette or whole wheat penne pasta
6 tablespoons spinach pesto
4 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
6 to 8 sundried tomatoes, chopped
20 kalamata olives, quartered

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add spinach pesto and reserved pasta water. Stir well to combine. Divide pasta among four bowls and top with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives.

Tip: For those that aren’t into meatless meals, this is the perfect dish to add a bit of leftover chicken to. You can plan to make a meal one or two nights before this one that uses chicken. Cook an extra chicken breast to chop up and keep in the fridge so you can toss it in with the cooked pasta and pesto.

Spinach Pesto
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis for Food Network
Makes about 2 1/4 cups

6 ounces baby spinach
3/4 cup pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
5 teaspoons grated lemon peel
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan

Add pine nuts to a sauté pan and stir over medium low heat until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pulse the spinach in a food processor until lightly chopped. Add the pine nuts, garlic, lemon peel, and lemon juice and lightly pulse a few times. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil. Mix until the olive oil is thoroughly combined. Add salt and pulse. Pour the pesto into ice-cube trays and store in the freezer for future use.

When ready to use the pesto thaw and stir in about 1 tablespoon Parmesan for every 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto you are using. Season the pesto with pepper, to taste.

Printable Version of Pesto Orecchiette with Goat Cheese & Sundried Tomatoes

Printable Version of Spinach Pesto

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