Basil Pesto Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Basil Pesto Pasta! I’m tired. And I’m hungry. What in the world can I cook for dinner that doesn’t take forever? But I want the taste to make me feel like I’m someone special. First of all, go over to the wine rack and open a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Pour a little into a stemmed glass. Swirl and take a sip. This will put you in the mood. The wonderfully sweet herbal notes of the fresh basil will complement the flavor of the wine. Plus, the olive oil and parmesan cheese in the pesto sauce enhance the richness of fruit in the Cab. Take another sip. Now let’s get started. (Footnote: Obviously if you already have a jar of your favorite Basil Pesto in the kitchen pantry, you’re one step ahead.)

BASIL PESTO PASTA

Ingredients:

10.5 ounce package of cherry tomatoes

12 large basil leaves

1/3 cup almonds, slightly toasted

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

1 pound spaghetti

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Combine cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, toasted almonds, garlic clove, and kosher salt in a food processor. Pulse to blend into a fine purée. Scrape the sides and turn the processor on Low setting. Slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture in a continuous stream. The pesto will thicken nicely. Set aside. Cook the spaghetti in salted water, according to package directions. Drain well. Transfer spaghetti to a bowl. Quickly toss with pesto sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over all. Garnish with basil leaves.

Presto, Pesto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Presto, Pesto! The garden went wild this year with an abundance of basil. I mean, you can only dry so much. Granted, I happen to like fresh basil with anything tomato, but not everyone agrees. So, this time I threw together a couple cups of basil leaves with my favorite pairing: parmesan cheese! Pesto freezes well, so it can be stored in an airtight container, or initially, ice cube trays. Once it’s frozen, transfer the cubes to airtight freezer bags for later on. Always defrost in advance. Pesto tastes best served at room temperature or only slightly warmed. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. Mix it into salad dressing or guacamole; the olive oil creates a smooth texture. Add a dollop to your evening vegetables, pasta noodles, or meat dish. Get creative and go Pesto!

PRESTO, PESTO

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup pine nuts, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a mini chopper, combine basil leaves, chopped garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Pulse to blend; approximately 30 seconds. Slowly pour the olive oil into the top of the lid while the blade is on the Low setting. The olive oil will drizzle through the little hole for smooth results. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Stir. Transfer pesto to a covered jar. Store in the refrigerator.

X-traordinary Pesto Pepperoni Pita

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: X-traordinary Pesto Pepperoni Pita! When there’s nothing in the house for lunch, take stock of leftovers in your refrigerator. Transform that last pita pocket into a personal pizza with basil pesto, sliced pepperoni, a dollop of tomato sauce, and a handful of mozzarella cheese. That’s what I did. Suddenly, it’s an appealing alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

X-TRAORDINARY PESTO PEPPERONI PITA

Ingredients:

1 pita bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 tablespoons basil pesto

3-5 slices pepperoni

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon black olives

1 teaspoon pimento

Instructions:

Spread olive oil evenly over one side of pita bread. Warm pita bread in an iron skillet over medium heat for one minute. Press to flatten. Next build the pizza. Spread with tomato sauce and basil pesto. Layer pepperoni over sauces. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Top with black olives and pimento. Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet to allow cheese to melt. For a crispy crust, remove lid and raise the heat back to medium. Do not burn. Serve whole with salad greens.

Artichoke Pesto Spread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Artichoke Pesto Spread! No matter if you eat artichokes for their nutritional value (high in antioxidants) or if you just need a serving of veggies that taste incredible on toast, this recipe is an excellent tool to pull out in a pinch. The main ingredients are usually in the pantry or refrigerator, so everything is ready to serve in minutes.

ARTICHOKE PESTO SPREAD

Ingredients:

14-ounce can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1-2 tablespoons garlic basil pesto

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 green onions, sliced

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine artichoke hearts, pesto, Parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl. Blend well. Fold in sliced green onions. Transfer to an ovenproof dish that has been sprayed with a nonstick oil. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm with crusty artisan bread and seasoned crackers.

Dining Outside the Home: Ground Round Grill & Bar in Worthington, Minnesota 

Dining Outside the Home: Ground Round Grill & Bar in Worthington, Minnesota! After a long road trip, crossing State lines, having a restaurant within arm’s throw of the hotel is pretty nice. It does a body good to stretch the legs and walk about. And after being in a car all day, dining outside on an open terrace is an added bonus. Although an American franchise, this upscale eatery boasts a varied menu for the health-conscious, gluten-free crowd, and avid sports enthusiast. The Roasted Garlic Chicken Flatbread was truly gourmet. Baked to perfection, it fulfilled my expectation. Its rich ingredients of basil pesto, roasted tomatoes, garlic chicken chunks, and marinated artichokes were crowned with baby arugula drizzled with a sumptuous balsamic glaze. Now doesn’t that sound heavenly?

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter X

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: X-traordinary Pesto Pepperoni Pita! When there’s nothing in the house for lunch, take stock of leftovers in your refrigerator. Transform that last pita pocket into a personal pizza with basil pesto, sliced pepperoni, a dollop of tomato sauce, and a handful of mozzarella cheese. That’s what I did. Suddenly, it’s an appealing alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 
X-TRAORDINARY PESTO PEPPERONI PITA
Ingredients:

1 pita bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 tablespoons basil pesto

3-5 slices pepperoni 

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon black olives

1 teaspoon pimento
Instructions:

Spread olive oil evenly over one side of pita bread. Warm pita bread in an iron skillet over medium heat for one minute. Press to flatten. Next build the pizza. Spread with tomato sauce and basil pesto. Layer pepperoni over sauces. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Top with black olives and pimento. Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet to allow cheese to melt. For a crispy crust, remove lid and raise the heat back to medium. Do not burn. Serve whole with salad greens. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Zillions of Zoodles! Anyone who owns a KitchenAid stand mixer will tell you they know all about the Spiralizer. I know it may sound like a super-hero with super-powers, but in many ways it is….for foodies, in my opinion. A Spiralizer is an attachment that can peel and slice vegetables into a uniform spiral making the vegetables look like noodles. This is a great tool for those going Paleo or living gluten-free. In mere seconds any vegetable, like zucchini, can be transformed into an abundant bowl of Zoodles. Think about the options for yellow squash, cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes! Move over, Pasta, there’s a new sheriff in town!
ZILLIONS OF ZOODLES 
Ingredients:

1-2 zucchini, spiralized 

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces shrimp, precooked

1/8 teaspoon dill weed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup Greek olive mix

3 tablespoons basil pesto

Fresh parsley, for garnish 
Instructions:

Spiralize zucchini zoodles into a bowl. Discard spiral stems. In a large skillet, heat olive oil to sauté shrimp sprinkled with dill weed, sea salt, and red pepper flakes. Remove from pan; keep drippings. Reduce heat and toss zoodles in reserve oil to coat. Add sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Stir in basil pesto. Toss gently. Heat zoodles no longer than 3-4 minutes. Remove and serve with sautéed shrimp. Garnish with fresh parsley.