First impressions are a funny thing. I remember, as a freshman in high school, hearing one of the most beautiful girls in the school proclaim that she bases all her friendships and any potential relationships on first impressions. “I don’t care if it’s unfair. If I don’t like you from first talking to you, I’m never going to talk to you again.” I still remember these words. While harsh, I actually wondered whether she had a point. All our lives we are judged on first impressions, including dates and interviews. Interactions that decide the most important parts of our lives are truly governed by the first impressions. So, was there any truth to what she said?
After 30 years of life experience, I call B.S. on her theory.
According to Binks, if he had judged me based on his first impression, he would not have talked to me ever again. I obviously thought differently of our first interaction. I was so shy and nervous that when he called me, I sat on the phone quietly for most of the conversation. Me being quiet is not the normal if you have ever met me. But, I did. And if it was anyone else, he wouldn’t have called again. But, because Binks would be the last person to judge a person from a first impression, he called again. And, six years and a baby later, the rest is history.
Less importantly, I hated pesto the first time I tried it. That’s what happens when you try to make pesto out of a powder mix from a “pasta creation” box. Disgusting. Extremely pungent (not in a good way), bitter and salty. After having some basil left over from making pizza sauce, I decided to give it a second try.
Controlling the levels of the different ingredients, I was able to create a product that was creamy yet bold, without any harsh flavors to distract from the bright basil. Since making it, I have been using it on everything I can find. Ranging from pesto pasta with vegetables and roasted pesto potatoes, I’m in love with this pesto.
adapted from Simply Recipes
- 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts), roasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 cups basil leaves, packed tight
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- pinch of black ground pepper
- pinch of salt, more as required
- In a food processor, add minced garlic and pulse about 2-3 times to break down the garlic further.
- Add pine nuts (or walnuts) and process until finely ground.
- In a thin stream, slowly incorporate half of the olive oil while the food processor is running.
- Add basil and puree until smooth.
- Slowly pour in the remaining olive oil until incorporated.
- Add the cheese, pepper, and salt and process until fully blended.
- Test for salt and add if required.
I cook pasta at least once a week. And, taking into account leftovers, we eat pasta three times a week. It’s fast and versatile. And, while I usually rely on marinara sauce or quick spaghetti sauce, I try to incorporate different flavors and textures to create a satisfying dish without being too monotonous.
And, with my everlasting fondness for pesto, this dish is appropriate for a lunch or dinner. And, the flavors get even better the next day. So, leftovers of this comforting dish are anything but mundane.
The addition of spinach, broccoli and toasted walnuts adds depth and nutritional value without compromising taste.
Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli and Walnuts
- 1 (16 oz) package bow tie pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 head broccoli crown
- 1 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed and drained of water
- 3/4 cup pesto – use your favorite pesto (I used half basil pesto and half sun-dried tomato pesto)
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus additional for dusting on top
- Boil pasta to al dente in salted water. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
- Using a large saucepan (I use my dutch oven), and heat your olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, add the garlic and cook for approximately 2 minutes – until the garlic is slightly brown. Add the broccoli and stir for a minute. Cover the broccoli and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes over medium. After 3 minutes, add the spinach to the broccoli. At this point, you are just trying to warm up the spinach without overcooking the broccoli. I cook the spinach with the broccoli for about one minute. You do not want to overcook the broccoli. You want it to be firm but not raw. If you can pierce it, it’s ready – you definitely do not want it be mushy.
- Once the broccoli/spinach mixture is cooked, add it to the bowl containing the pasta.
- To the pasta/broccoli mix, add your pesto, red pepper flakes, walnuts, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Toss to ensure that the pasta is evenly coated.
- Check for salt and add more if desired. I start with 1/4 tsp because the pesto and the Parmesan add saltiness to the dish.
- Once the pasta is coated, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top right before serving.
Did I mention that I love sandwiches? And I have been having them! They have been delicious – especially the addition of hummus.
But, as with the seasons, it was time for a change.
There’s a new sandwich spread in town and it’s not fancy. It’s not shmancy. It’s just really good. Like really. good.
Note: I hate raw unadulterated cilantro. It’s got too much of a bite that I can’t take.
So, when I started making this, I thought this might be a no-go. Not so.
The mix of the spicy cilantro with the mellow walnut and the nutty parmesan really make this spread/sauce work beautifully together. Like having the perfect number of people on the see-saw to make it go up and down.
You didn’t just have one person on each side did you? If so, well…we rolled a little differently at my school. It could have been that the swing-set was always ‘under repair’ from some kid that broke it or tossed up the swing seats and got it rolled on the bars – were you that kid? If so, I’m mad at you.
Back to the pesto!
It’s cheap. Basil is way more expensive than cilantro. And, pine nuts – don’t even get me started on that price!
Helpful hint: Instead of having to mince garlic for the spread, put it first into the food processor before adding everything else.
So you can imagine what my lunch looked like today!
A fabulous sandwich with sliced turkey and gouda.
It pairs well with dijon mustard.
For all that is good and great – go home, make this dip. It will change your life.
Inspired by KERF
- 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Mince garlic cloves in food processor.
- Add cilantro, walnuts and parmesan cheese; puree until it forms a paste.
- Add salt and pepper.
- While processing, add olive oil through the spout until everything is mixed together well.