Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Penne with Broccoli and Pumpkin Seed-Parsley Pesto

I have neglected to update this blog and have left out many delicious recipes i have made over the passed months. now that alex is in flight training, my goal is to have an organized weekly meal planner and to record the final products in this blog, critique the outcome, and include any modifications i think are necessary.

The first meal i planned for this week came out of my cookbook, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. I made "Penne with Broccoli and Pumpkin Seed-Parsley Pesto" (page 246). I was craving a pasta dish and this one looked simple, yet flavorful, and incorporated unconventional ingredients (the pumpkins seeds, which are one of Alex's favorites). I made the full recipe which is supposed to yield 4 servings so we could have leftovers later in the week.

Penne with Broccoli and Pumpkin Seed-Parsley Pesto
serves 4 as a main course

The nutty taste of green pumpkin seeds works well with the mild
parsley in this pesto sauce. Broccoli and pumpkin seeds marry
fall flavors.

1/2 cup hulled green pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley leaves
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for the table
1 pound penne
1 pound broccoli, stalks discarded and florets cut into bite-sized pieces
1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for the cooking of the pasta
2. Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the pumpkin seeds out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven, shaking the pan once or twice to turn the seeds, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Cool the pumpkin seeds.
3. Process the cooled pumpkin seeds, parsley, garlic, and pepper flakes in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the ingredients are finely ground. With the motor running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube and process until thick and fairly smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl large enough to hold the cooked pasta. (the Pesto will be very thick.) Stir in the cheese and salt to taste. (Salt the pesto generously; it has to season a pound of pasta and the broccoli.)
4. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, add the broccoli, and continue to cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, 1 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile, stir 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the pesto to achieve a saucier consistency. Drain the pasta and broccoli. Add the pasta and broccoli to the bowl with the pesto and toss, adding more water as necessary to moisten the pasta and help spread the pesto. Serve immediately, passing the grated cheese at the table.

I thought this dish was fairly flavorful for how simple it was to prep and make. I added more garlic and red pepper flakes to the pesto. I also think the pasta became slightly overcooked. Next time I would remove the pasta once it reaches al dente and then quick-boil the broccoli for 1 minute then combine together in a bowl. Also the amount of pesto was not sufficient for the full pound of pasta. I would also recommend making just enough for one meal. I found the pasta and broccoli became more mushy as it was reheated for lunch today. It also needs just one more component to balance the dish. something with acid or sweetness. I am not sure what, as I do not want to clash with the broccoli and pesto flavors. Also this component could add more color to the dish, as it was very green. Perhaps bruschetta topped with either tomatoes or peppers would compliment the pasta.

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