Monday, December 19, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne

If you're looking a quick and super tasty pasta dish, this is definitely one to try.  I made the pesto in the time it took to boil the noodles!  I'm a huge fan of the roasted red bell peppers that come in  the jar.  They are healthy, beautiful, super delicious and a very versatile pantry item.   For a side dish, the pasta is perfect.  To make this a main dish, I added some rotisserie chicken - an ingredient you just about can't beat to stretch a dollar. 

Click for Printable Recipe   

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup of jarred roasted red bell peppers, drained
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • roasted rotisserie chicken, optional
  • (Post script - for roasted grape tomatoes, see bottom of recipe)

Step-by-Step: 

I threw the garlic cloves in a small pan and added the cold olive oil.  I slowly pan roasted the garlic a while to mellow it out.  When you heat the garlic with the cold oil, the oil becomes flavored.

 Add the pine nuts to the warm oil and let them simmer just a minute or two.
 Add the garlic, pine nuts, and oil to the food processor and pulse until they are a fine paste.

Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse.
Add the red pepper, basil leaves and salt and pepper.  Pulse to combine into a paste.  Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. 
Add the pesto to the pasta and stir to combine. 
Stir in heavy cream if desired for a creamier sauce. Heat until warmed through.
*If you trying to avoid cream (or dairy in general), feel free to add a little chicken broth in the place of the cream.  I've also done this with canned evaporated milk and that works great as well!!
 Stir in roasted rotisserie chicken if you want, or serve plain.
Garnish with extra pine nuts (dry toast them in a pan), chopped basil, grated Parmesan (and roasted grape tomatoes).   Serve immediately.

*Note* - I had to go back and edit this page, because many people ask me about the tomatoes garnishing the top.  No, they are not part of the original recipe, but I threw them on for their beautiful color and the textural difference.  HOWEVER... I MUST admit to you now, that since then, I find myself putting more and more of them.  Fast forward from the origination of the dish - because now I am roasting the tomatoes. The grape tomatoes are super sweet, and I roast them in the oven which makes them even sweeter!  Now, I don't think I could think of having this dish without them.
  • grape tomatoes - maybe half a pint, cut in half
  • a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • dried basil
  • Cut tomatoes in half.  Drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, and dried basil.  Roast in oven for about 30 min on 400 degrees F.  The edges will start getting dried and shriveled.  Let them cool a bit and add them either on top or mix them in.  They really bring a whole new dimension to this dish.

Beautiful, isn't it?  On the day I originally made this, the older boys were getting of school early and we were going to see a movie.  I threw this together and we sat .... um stood actually... and ate it straight out of the bowl.  Now, they still call this dish "the stuff we eat out of the bowl" when they are requesting it.  Ha!

It has been one of my most popular recipes with rave reviews!!!

* Make it a little soupier than you think you will need it.  The pasta will soak up a lot of the sauce. 

Method:

I threw the garlic cloves in a small pan and added the cold olive oil.  I slowly pan roasted the garlic a while to mellow it out.  When you heat the garlic with the cold oil, the oil becomes flavored.  Add the pine nuts to the warm oil and let them simmer just a minute or two. 
Add the garlic, pine nuts, and oil to the food processor and pulse until they are a fine paste.   Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse. Add the red pepper, basil leaves and salt and pepper.  Pulse to combine into a paste.  Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.  Add the pesto to the pasta and stir to combine.   Stir in heavy cream if desired for a creamier sauce. Heat until warmed through.  If you trying to avoid cream (or dairy in general), feel free to add a little chicken broth in the place of the cream.  I've also done this with canned evaporated milk and that works great as well!!

Stir in roasted rotisserie chicken if you want, or serve plain.  Garnish with extra pine nuts (dry toast them in a pan), chopped basil, grated Parmesan (and roasted grape tomatoes).   Serve immediately.

I had to go back and edit this page, because many people ask me about the tomatoes garnishing the top.  No, they are not part of the original recipe, but I threw them on for their beautiful color and the textural difference.  HOWEVER... I MUST admit to you now, that since then, I find myself putting more and more of them.  Fast forward from the origination of the dish - because now I am roasting the tomatoes. The grape tomatoes are super sweet, and I roast them in the oven which makes them even sweeter!  Now, I don't think I could think of having this dish without them.
  • grape tomatoes - maybe half a pint, cut in half
  • a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • dried basil
  • Cut tomatoes in half.  Drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, and dried basil.  Roast in oven for about 30 min on 400 degrees F.  The edges will start getting dried and shriveled.  Let them cool a bit and add them either on top or mix them in.  They really bring a whole new dimension to this dish.

Looking for more easy and delicious pasta dishes?  Please visit my Recipe Index.  These dishes will make your family oh so happy that you did NOT go for take out!  Mom and family approved. :)

Crawfish Monica

  
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    34 comments:

    1. This looks delicious and oh-so fancy! My family would love this!

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    2. This looks delicious! Great pictures!

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    3. This looks amazing and something that is easily done. Thank you soo much for this recipe!! Can't wait to try it out :)

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    4. Good hearty home cooking. I love your meal and I bet it was really delicious!


      Wishing you and your family a wonderful Holiday Season

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    5. wow, this looks so good. I will look forward to trying it!

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    6. I'm thinking about making this for a party...how many servings do you think this recipe will make?

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    7. Pauline - maybe 6 servings as a side dish? It's a whole pound of pasta. I had four hearty servings as a main dish (with the inclusion of the chicken).

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    8. Thank you so much!!

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    9. I'm making this for dinner tonight!

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    10. Chele - I'm very flattered. Hope it meets with your expectations... my kids grabbed forks, stood around, and ate it straight out of the serving bowl!

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    11. looks so scrumptious. Thanks for sharing

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    12. What a mouthwatering recipe! It is making me hungry and I cant wait to try it out!

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    13. Making this for friends tomorrow...if I wanted to avoid the heavy cream, would 2% milk work? I know you mentioned chicken broth too.
      Thanks!!

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    14. Oh certainly that would be fine. It just adds a little body and creaminess. You could use 2%, or half and half, or evaporated (canned) milk. Hope it comes out great for your friends!

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    15. Can you tell me to nutrition facts about the meal? I'm thinking about making it but I'm on a diet.

      Thanks

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    16. Well, Empress... I don't know all the fat/calorie counts, but I can tell you that nuts and olive oil are the "good for you" fats. That said, here are some ways to reduce the fat/calorie count: Either eliminate the cream or substitute half and half, evaporated milk or maybe even a 2% milk in its place. Roasted red peppers are very healthy! And you could also substitute whole wheat pasta if you would like.

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    17. In the picture it looks like small grape tomatoes but I don't see it in the recipe. Is that correct? Also I don't like pine nuts. Is there a nut substitution? Would the taste change if I just eliminate? I am starting my New Years diet and this looks great and easy. Thanks

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    18. Hi Kathy. Yes, those are grape tomatoes in the photo. They are not actually part of the recipe. I threw them on at the end as a garnish because I think they are so pretty and delicious - but they are not IN the recipe. So feel free to add or delete them according to the preferences of your family. Regarding the nuts, I wouldn't eliminate them totally, as a pesto is made of a paste containing nuts - usually pine nuts, but sometimes walnuts. So feel free to substitute walnuts (or even pecans) in the pesto "paste." The recipe is truly VERY fast and easy, as you just dump everything in the food processor. If you DO make the walnut substitution, please write me back and let me know how it came out. I think that might actually lend a whole new depth of flavor to the sauce. Remember, nuts have the "good for you" type of fat that is important to your health. Cheers, Julie juliesmith123@comcast.net

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    19. Hi, I do not have a food processor, would a blender work? I know it probably wont grind the pine nuts so maybe just a rough chop and have a chunky sauce?

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    20. If you need to blend it, blend away! I would recommend you chop the pine nuts then try to grind them: mortar and pestle, or a meat pounder, or just a fine mince with the knife.

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    21. I love everything in this recipe.It looks so tasty and easy to make for week night dinner but nice enough for company! Thanks. BTW, I found you on pintrest and I am looking forward to trying many of your recipes :-)

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    22. Thumbnail of Katharine

      Katharine DELICIOUS! I made it for dinner tonight. I don't like pine nuts so I made it with walnuts, very good! When I make it again I won't add the cream. Awesome recipe!

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    23. We make a similar recipe at home,and I've substituted coconut milk for the cream. Not any less caloric, but if you have a milk allergy, it's a great substitute in this recipe.

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    24. Made this tonight with pasta water instead of cream, yum!! Thanks for the recipe!

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    25. I'm making this tomorrow night for my family! It looks so simple and delicious, I love this kind of food!

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      1. Kate... hope your family enjoys this as much as mine! Julie

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    26. Made this for dinner last night, and it was DELICIOUS. I added the tomatoes like you have in the picture, and it made it even better. Thanks!!

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      1. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed the dish. (My oldest two boys refer to this as "the stuff we eat out of the bowl" because everyone descends on it immediately.) As I make this more and more, I actually find myself increasing the amount of oven roasted tomatoes more and more. I like the punch of acidity and brightness that they add to the dish - not to mention the extra nutrition! Thanks again for commenting. :-)

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    27. I love pasta anyway! It looks great!

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    28. Do you think the sauce is freezeable? I'm about to have my first baby and I'm trying to do a whole bunch of freeze ahead meals so that I have one less thing to worry about. It looks super easy to make and normally I would take the time, but I think I might be kinda busy in a few weeks...

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      1. Absolutely! I wouldn't put the pasta in with it, but sure.. I totally think the sauce will freeze well. You could even freeze it in large "ice cube" trays. Once they are frozen frozen, pop the sauce cubes into a large (gallon?) zip top bag for individual portions later on! Best of luck!! :)

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    29. I love this recipe and so does my two year old. We had it tonight for dinner xD one of the better pintrest finds also pinenuts aren't to budget friendly at krogers and walmart so i opted them out.. tho tonight I decided I needed to use some kind of nut so I used what we had which was a cheap bag of sunflower seeds it actually turned out great! I also baked the chicken with garlic and onion this meal had awesome flavors :)

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    30. In the video is seems like you were putting different measurements of the ingredients. In the video its a handful of basil, but in the ingredient list its a whole cup! Have you actually made the recipe using those measurements in the ingredient list or do you wing it usually? I'll be making this within the next couple of days. Looks good!

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      Replies
      1. Mariam -
        I actually do use those measurements. Use the amounts listed. In the photo, if it seems it's less than a cup in my hand, it's because I can't always grab up the entire amount in one swoop while taking the photo. Julie

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