Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Creamy pesto pasta salad

I have a new favorite appliance and I never saw it coming.  I bought a new Cuisanart food processor and it might be the coolest thing I've ever bought for the kitchen....I realize I'm really flying my freak flag to show the excitement I have for this thing but I'm not sure I care!   I wanted one originally to make spagetti sauce at home and to try to thicken my salsa up a little when I make it next time.  But I saw this recipe for homemade pesto and really wanted to try it as I didn't want to bring my normal pasta salad to the birthday party this weekend, I was ready to debut something new....

Here she is....what a beaut!  It even has a blender attachment....Score!

Anyway, I found this recipe while cruising online and I was a BIG fan of it...I've been killing all the leftovers (as has my boss since I brought a bunch to work).  So I'm glad someone besides me really liked it, since Justin was not really a fan and I know Brandy left a platefull at the party.  Don't worry, Im not that weirdo who watches if people eat my food or not...Justin was the one that pointed it out that she left a bunch so he didn't feel like a jerk telling me it wasn't his fave, haha!  I might try to make it again and not leave it in the fridge over night so the pasta is less dry, maybe add some chicken or something to make it a full meal? Anything to give him another chance to like it so it gets on our "make again" list!  Anyway, this was surprisingly easy with a food processor, it didnt take long at all.

3 cups packed fresh basil
1 cup packed fresh parsley (both of these I have in my herb garden)
3 garlic cloves
1 T lemon juice
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (these were pretty expensive FYI)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated reduced fat parmesan cheese

1 lb gemelli or other short pasta (I used wheat)
1 cup plain 2% greek yogurt
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (I used Nature's Sweet cherubs)

Start boiling your pasta first since it will take the longest.  In the food processor puree everything except greek yogurt, olive oil and parmesan for the pesto.  With motor running, add olive oil and process until a thick paste forms.  Add parmesan and pulse twice. 

Once pasta is done, strain it and run it under cold water so it stops cooking. 

Combine the pesto with the greek yogurt and blend well. 

Add cold pasta and halved tomatoes.  I put it in the fridge to chill at this point because I made it before the party....but if you have time to make it right before I would serve it immediately as it was so much more creamy at this point because the noodles hadnt soaked up all the moisture.  I still liked the flavor of it when it was more dry but that was J's complaint. 

I'm about to go slam the last cup of it I had leftover for lunch....and going to enjoy every last bit of it! :)

Oh and although there is a decent amount of olive oil in this recipe, it's really not that bad for you.  One pound of pasta makes a huge batch, but the recipe gives the yield of this amount as 8 servings.  You would have some big old plates of pasta salad if you split this into 8 servings....I would say it yields more like 20 servings or more!  Anyway, for one huge plate full serving it lists 464 calories....so if you get a normal scoop of pasta salad as a side and not a meal, it would be about 150 calories in my estimation.

EDIT:  I made this dish again, as you can tell I really want people to start liking it so I can have it all the time :)  I just made a plain pesto, took the parmesan cheese out so as not to dry it out, and left out the greek yogurt as well.  It turned out even better!!  AND it's not dry, when you stir it, the olive oil comes back to the top and leaves you with fresh tasting pasta...instead of the dried out pesto taste of the previous batch.  So, you're welcome...I solved the riddle.  I also added fresh mozzerella to the mix to give it a sort of caprese salad taste....nomnomnomnom!!!

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