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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Zucchini Almond Pesto Pasta (and Hello!)

This is the very first post on my very first blog and I am very, very nervous.  I mean, who needs another food blog to read???  What else do I have to offer that all the other amazing cooks that blog before me don't already offer up on a daily basis?  Well, if you are anything like myself, then you are obsessed with food and cooking and search through blog after blog, drooling over food porn and saving recipes to whip up at the next earliest convenience.  Well then maybe you have come across me and will like what I have to show you - which is usually, but not always, healthy and tasty food.

I'm Amanda - a high school math teacher, graduate student, and mom.  When I'm not teaching, studying, or being a mommy, I am either cooking, jazzercizing, or sleeping.  If it's not the summer, I can often be found at night watching some good tv.  At least I think it's good tv, but my husband, Jim, will beg to differ.  I have been an enthusiastic amateur cook for about 6 years and recently taken up photography.  So I look forward to sharing some recipes and pictures.  Since I am extremely busy, you can rely on me to show you recipes that you can usually balance with a busy schedule.  I am definitely health conscience, and have a 2 year old daughter, Adrienne, that I would like to raise to be aware of what is going into her body.  So you can rely on me to show you healthy recipes as well.  Keep in mind that my motto is "everything in moderation - including moderation," so don't expect anything extreme.  I like a variety of foods that taste good and are good for you. 

 With that being said, me and Jim have a backyard garden, and in it are the most prolific zucchini plants.  In an attempt to stay on top of the zucchini-fall before we get completely buried, I experimented with some zucchini pesto - and it came out amazing!  So here is the first recipe of what is hopefully many to Amanda original.  The reason my pesto is an almond pesto (you don't see that very often - if ever) is because my husband despises both pine nuts and walnuts (ugh - I swear it kills me inside!)  Since I am such a nice wife, I use almonds instead.  I actually like it better than any other pesto I have ever made (in my pre-pine nut adverse Jim life.)  So thank you, Jim.  Also, don't expect to be knocked over by zucchini flavor.  It's pretty darn subtle due to the power of the pesto, but it's there and you know it.

In the future, I look forward to documenting the cooking process as well.  I didn't know I was going to finally start this blog until after I tasted this deliciousness.  That's how much I liked this dish.  It inspired me to finally start a food blog and share the recipe with everyone.  I hope you like it as much as I did.

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

3 cups fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 an onion
1-2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
1 box of whole grain pasta (I used penne.)
Salt and (crushed red) pepper to taste

Put your pot of water to boil.  Cook your pasta.  Before your drain it, reserve a cup of the cooking liquid to add to your sauce later.

Shred the zucchini in a food processor.  Set the shredded zucchini aside in another bowl.  You can rinse out the processor before you throw the pesto together if you so choose, but I am sure a little left over zucchini shred wouldn't hurt anyone.

Before you begin the pesto process, mince 2 of the garlic cloves and the onion and sautee in a pan with some olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion is translucent.  Then add the shredded zucchini and stir occasionally.  It does not need to cook very long.  It just needs to get warm and absorb some of the garlicky, onion flavor.

While this cooks, you can get your pesto together.  Combine the basil, the remaining garlic clove, cheese, almonds, and olive oil in the food processor and process until it is to your desired pesto consistency.  Now pour the pesto into the pan with the zucchini and combine.  Then pour this mixture into your pasta and mix it all together.  Add some of the cooking liquid so that it isn't dry.  I used about 1/2 of a cup.  Taste it and add more cheese, salt, or pepper to your liking.


(I bet this would taste really good with some chopped up sundried tomatoes if you like them.  If I had any on hand that day, they would have ended up in the dish.)

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