Friday, January 17, 2014

Pronto Pesto! Escarole, Walnut, Red Onion, Lemon


We all know my love for Pesto Genovese, but who's to say I discriminate against other pestos? I had a hankering for an escarole and walnut combination (a salad initially), and then decided to just go ahead and make some kind of sauce.  Mind you, this pesto is not made in a pestle as per usual, but instead in a food processor.  Easy enough, right!? This recipe is super healthy, super easy, and everyone will love the flavor combination!

Escarole & Walnut Pesto
1 head escarole
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T walnut oil
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper


The pesto can be made well in advance - this recipe does make extra, so you can save it for another time.  To start, roughly chop the dark greens of the escarole.  You can chop a bit of the heart of the escarole, but you don't want very much as it's extremely bitter.  Wash and dry the greens, and set aside - you should have about 4.5 cups worth.  Bring 4 qts of salted water to a boil.  When boiling, toss in the escarole greens.  Allow the water to come back to a boil, and cook for about 20 seconds longer.  Drain and throw into an ice bath to stop the cooking, or rinse with cold water.  Drain again, squeezing the greens a bit to get most of the water out and place inside a food processor.   Add the toasted walnuts and pulse to combine.  When it is roughly pureed, add in the remaining ingredients and pulse until just combined.  You don't want to over-process the pesto!  Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if you think necessary. Your pesto is now good to go - transfer to another container and reserve until you're ready to cook.





For the whole shebang
Some kind of spaghetti-esque pasta
Pecorino Romano cheese
Thinly sliced red onion
1 lemon


Alright, so I decided against actually making my own pasta because I didn't think I had enough time! A sad moment indeed.  But I did think it'd be a good idea to be an ancient Aztec and use quinoa pasta.  Either way, get whatever your favorite kind of pasta is and cook per their particular instructions.  While the pasta is cooking, start heating a sauté pan over low heat.  Heat up 2 T olive oil, and stir in ~2 T of the pesto per  each portion of pasta.  When the pasta is just al dente, drain it and add to the sauté pan.  If you're using wheat flour pasta, spoon in a tad of the pasta water to help make a sauce.  Stir to ensure the pasta is coated with the pesto, and plate! Divide the portions of pasta evenly.  To finish, generously zest the lemon over each dish, as well as grating some pecorino romano over each. Scatter the red onions, and serve.



This pesto is so simple, so quick to make, and so good! The escarole and walnuts give the dish a heartiness that's brightened up by the lemon zest and red onion that finishes the dish.  The colors are beautiful, and the flavors won't let anyone down.  Not too mention, this dish is ridiculously healthy, especially if you use the quinoa noodles!



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