Sunday, September 30, 2012

whole wheat pasta with spicy spinach & peanut butter pesto

this is one of those "happy accident" recipes.  one day last fall i was craving pesto...but basil season was over.  i had spinach growing in the garden and, since i often use different kinds of greens in pesto, decided to use what was on hand.  i had all the ingredients required except one crucial item...nuts.  now i usually have many different kinds of nuts in the pantry (or freezer)...walnuts, pecans, almonds and pine nuts are staples in my home.  that day i was out of everything and just did not feel like a trip to the market.  i realized i had some organic peanut butter and decided to give that combination a try.

i loved the result.  i added garlic, extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  the pesto reminds me a bit of spicy peanut sauce and is really delicious on whole wheat pasta.  i also spread it on  baguette slices and grill, top chicken sandwiches, stir into cheese dip, add a dollop to crostini for soups....there are so many options.  when fresh tomatoes are out of season use the sun dried ones packed in olive oil.  i have also added streamed green beans, roasted butternut squash and/or broccoli and these options are are really, really good.

it is spinach week at food network's fall fest and the perfect time of year to make this pesto dish. my baby spinach is ready to pick and heirloom tomatoes are still in season.  give it a try and please let me know what you think.  happy october everyone!

whole wheat pasta with spicy spinach & peanut butter pesto
1 lb whole wheat pasta, penne or fusilli
3 large handfuls baby spinach leaves (about 6 oz)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
pinch (or 2 for spicy) red pepper flakes
1 red heirloom tomato, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 spinach leaves cut in chiffonade as garnish (optional)

bring large pot of water to boil.  salt generously and add pasta.  cook according to package directions.  cook to al dente. do not overcook.

meanwhile add spinach, garlic and peanut butter to bowl of food processor.  process until smooth.  add 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper to spinach mixture.  pulse just until mixed.  taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

remove pasta from pot with spider strainer or slotted spoon.  do not shake off all the water.  place pasta in large bowl.  add pesto to pasta and stir to combine.  add tomato and green onion and gently stir.  taste and add additional salt or pepper if desired.  plate and drizzle with additional olive oil. top with chiffonade spinach and serve.

check out the delicious sounding kale recipes from the all of the other participating bloggers:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Skinny Hot Spinach Dip
Feed Me Phoebe: October Evening Lentil Soup With Spinach
And Love It Too: Grain-Free Spinach Pie
Cooking With Elise: Baby Spinach Salad With Cranberries, Spiced Pecans and a Maple Vinaigrette
Virtually Homemade: Three Onion Dip With Spinach
HGTV Gardens: Garden-to-Table: Spinach
Thursday Night Dinner: Spinach Ice Cream
Cooking Channel: Fresh Spinach in Indian Recipes
Daily*Dishin: Spinach-Sausage Saute With Pan-Fried Gnocchi
Delicious Lean: Spinach Leaf Roll Ups
Bacon and Souffle: Baby Spinach Pizza With Sopressata and Sriracha
FN Dish: Stuff It With Spinach

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Jeanette said...

I love how you improvised and used peanut butter in this pesto!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks jeanette! btw, i loved your cottage cheese tip in your spinach cool was that?