Oct 4, 2011

How to Boil Water: Penne with Pesto with Bruschetta

We had ourselves an Italian night here at the Evans's house! I have personally always been a fan of Italian. But I have never been all the brave to try something outside the red sauce family. But tonight with the Penne with Pesto - it was definitely outside the red sauce world. And to go with the penne we had bruschetta, which I must say I have gotten better at every time I make it. But we're gonna start with the Penne with Pesto.

Ingredients:
1 large bunch fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta-cooking water and to taste
Fresh ground black pepper
1 pound penne or other other ridged small-tube pasta

Directions:
Smash and peel the garlic then add it to the food processor with the basil and pine nuts. Pulse until coarsely chopped. With the food processor running gradually add the olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth.

Pour pesto in a large bowl and stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook penne for 8-10 minutes. Drain and save about 1/4 cup of pasta-cooking water.

Add pasta to the bowl of pesto. Toss with cooking water and pesto until coated evenly. Season with salt and pepper.




A few notes:
*This was my first time using my food processor so I was kinda excited.

*I ran into my first problem when making the pesto because my food processor didn't have a way to run while I streamed in the olive oil. So I had to pour it all in then chop it from there. But smooth is smooth.

*What I didn't realize when I first started this recipe was that I was actually making my own pesto. So when I realized I had my own recipe for basil pesto right in front of me I got a little excited. Seems weird to get excited about something so basic but hey it's cheep thrills.

*I ran across a little problem that we didn't discover until later. I used my basil that I had been growing but I realized too late that I didn't quite have enough basil. So although it turned out pretty good, the garlic was way too strong. I think with more basil and maybe smaller clothes of garlic I might be better off. Lesson learned.

*I used whole wheat penne because it's healthier but also because I wanted to get rid of the box. I'm not sure if the the kind of noodle really matters at all.

Served with this, I chose bruschetta. This is something that I have made a couple times before. The first time I really craved it and wanted to attempt this meal was after watching Julie/Julia. It looked so good and from that moment I wanted it so badly. It seriously looked so good and even Rob agreed with me after I made him watch it for the hundredth time.

So I set off trying to find a recipe for this and I found one online that I decided to try that involved baking the bread in the oven instead of frying the bread. So I decided to give that a try and that was a complete and total disaster. So the next time I tried frying the bread but I just ended up burning the bread. (Just a note here: This is my regular blog where I started my How to Boil Water series before deciding to move the series to Defying Gravity and working it in here). So even after two failures I wasn't ready to give up (which is so out of character for me) and I decided we were going to have it with this meal. And we did and it was probably the best part of my day (well, I could be a total cheeseball here and say that seeing Rob was the best part of my day after he got home from work but I won't do that).

So here is my wonderful recipe for some Bruschetta.

Ingredients:
1 loaf of textured bread, cut lenthwise - *Note: I used sourdough bread this time and I think that was what made it so delicious.
1 clove garlic
1 1/4 pound assorted heirloom tomatoes, chopped and seeded - *Note: I have yet to actually find heirloom tomatoes in my local grocery store. Maybe you'll have more luck but I haven't so I just use regular plain old tomatoes and those work just as well.
2 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced - *Note: I just tear them, works just as well
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:
Cut up slices of bread.

Cut up the tomatoes. Tear/cut up the basil and mix it in a bowl with olive oil.

Fry bread in olive oil until browned. Then rub with garlic on one side of the bread.

Heap the tomato mixture on top of the bread.





A few notes:
*The one nice thing about cooking I have noticed that sometimes it just smells delicious. It's those moments that make me feel like a real cook, then I look around and realized I used a thousand dishes that they would never use and reality hits me again. Oh well.


And that's dinner!

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