At our house, we have a saying..."Don't yuk my yum!". We are trying to raise kids that aren't picky eaters by exposing them to many different kinds of food. It wasn't that long ago that one of my kids asked "Why can't you cook food like everyone else? Like tater tot hotdish?" The reason? It's not very healthy or creative and I think it's kind of gross. I don't cook like that. I like to use fresh, healthy ingredients to make great tasting good for you dishes. I've created this blog to share my favorite recipes with you.

Follow my kitchen adventures from using up vegetables from our weekly CSA box to baking and creative cooking.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pasta with Arugula Pesto and Snow Peas

After an extended break, I'm back.  May, June and the first part of July had me swamped with my final classes in Grad school and teaching summer school for a few weeks.  I am happy to say I now hold my Master's degree in Special Education-Learning Disabled and have a whole lot more free time!  I have been taking pictures of my cooking like crazy, but I just haven't had time to write anything. 

A couple weeks ago, our CSA, Red Goose Gardens started their weekly deliveries and I am so excited to cook with the "mystery" vegetables when they arrive each Wednesday afternoon.  For the summer months, I will try to focus my posts on how I use this fresh produce. 

Our box this week had lettuce, arugula, snow peas (edible pods) and carrots.  Last week we had fresh raspberries and the week before that we got strawberries!  Both were delicious with some yogurt or vanilla soy milk and the fresh granola that came in our first weekly boxes. 

We have been getting lots of lettuce each week.  In fact, the small bag in the upper right of this photo represents the smallest amount of lettuce we've received in any week.  That's okay, we get tired of eating so many salads and the baby greens really only last a couple days. 

Last night, I grilled the carrots (just like hot dogs) and basted them with a butter/balsamic vinegar mixture.  They turned out very good.  It's a no recipe recipe.  Season how you like, cook until done (careful, they burn easily!). 

Arugula is an aromatic salad green.  I really don't like arugula in it's raw form.  It's kind of peppery and can be bitter.  Not my favorite flavor.  So I started to browse the Internet looking for recipes and kept coming upon arugula pesto recipes.  Now I'm no stranger to pesto.  I grow my own basil, and even posted my pesto recipe last fall.  Based on that, I decided to try arugula pesto.  I found a recipe on my epicurious app on my phone for "Arugula Pesto and Peas with Pasta", which sounded like a perfect way to enjoy two ingredients in our box this week.  The arugula and peas came together very nicely tonight for a pasta dinner.
First, I made the pesto.  As you can probably see, the arugula has a lot of little holes from bugs, so I washed it VERY thoroughly and made sure I touched each leaf, taking off the stems and inspecting for little bugs.  I ended up with about 5 packed cups of the leafy green.  Pesto usually calls for a green herb, olive oil, garlic and nuts.  After consulting a few recipes, here is what I did:

Arugula Pesto with Pasta, Snow Peas and Chicken

First, The Pesto:
5 packed cups arugula
2 small garlic cloves
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 c. walnuts

Put garlic, half of the oil and the walnuts in the food processor.  Slowly add the greens.  As it becomes more difficult to blend, add in the rest of the oil.  I added some water toward the end as well to help with blending. This made about a cup and a half of pesto.  I froze half of it in a mini muffin pan.  I will put the pesto cubes in a plastic baggie once they are frozen through.

Don't feel bound by this recipe (or any recipe, for that matter!). Don't like garlic?  Don't put it in.  Have almonds, not walnuts?  Use them instead.  Be flexible.  Next time I might cut back on the arugula and substitute some basil for a little different flavor. 

This ugly green paste is Arugula Pesto
I then washed and stemmed the peas and took out some shredded Parmesan cheese and the rotisserie chicken I had in the fridge from the other day.  I put a big pot of water on to boil.  I first blanched the peas for about a minute, so they were crisp-tender.  I took the peas out and put them in a bowl with about a cup of diced chicken, 3/4 c. of pesto and about a half a cup of cheese, mixing well.  I cooked a box of penne pasta.  When it was done, I drained it and added it to the pea/pesto/chicken/cheese mixture. 

So my recipe looked like this:
1 box penne pasta (I usually use whole wheat, but we didn't have any)
3/4 c. arugula pesto
1 c. cubed cooked chicken
2 c. blanched snow peas
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan

This turned out very good.  I served with with garlic bread on the side.  I decided that with this many veggies in the pasta, we didn't need any on the side.  My kids raved about it.  I think it would be really good with broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini...pretty much any veggie that shows up in our box over the next three months. 

Enjoy the taste of summer while it lasts!

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