Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spinach Linguine with Edamame Pesto

When I first decided to do the "unthinkable" and became a vegetarian at 13, I thought I was going to be stuck eating salad all day, everyday.  (Boy was I naive!)  Coming from a family that has always been big on eating a variety of meat, I was suddenly removing myself from that and had zero idea how I was going to sustain my growing "teenager" self.  Then there was my poor family who knew less about a meatless diet than I did and had no idea what to do with me or feed me. (But, 7 years later I am still healthy and going strong!)  Aside from having tried every type of veggie burger I could get my little hands on, pasta also became a huge staple for me back then.  It was easy enough for me to make for myself, and it didn't require a lot of  thought...and at that age that was perfect for me because my mind was occupied with many far more important things (boys, school, boys, friends, boys...you get the idea).  Until I began living on my own and experimenting in the kitchen, I had no idea how much you could really branch off from your basic "sketti" and sauce/butter.  I have learned through becoming a vegetarian that there really are so many other foods I had left out because it never occurred to me how many possibilities I really had.  And this was how I wound up making this delicious dish!  Years ago I would have never imagined a pesto made from edamame and a pasta made from spinach and it just goes to show you that the possibilities in a sans-meat diet really are infinite!  This whole lifestyle change has definitely opened up my eyes to the flavors of so many great fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, etc. and the uber delicious things you can make with them. (On the other hand, if we were talking about a life without dessert then I would be singing a completely different tune!)  For vegetarians and vegans this dish would also be great with balsamic glazed tofu or with a nice big grilled portabello on top, and for omnis this would be great with some grilled chicken..so you see, you can please both sides with this great recipe!  It's the perfect way to switch up that pasta dish and try something new!

The edamame pesto is a great addition to anything you would normally use pesto with.  It's not super oily like traditional pestos because this came from a low-fat vegan cookbook...but if you're not concerned with counting calories, add in some extra EVOO (if you're not a Rachael Ray fan, that stands for extra virgin olive oil) to give make its texture a little more like regularly made pestos.  This little soybean can do just about anything!

Edamame Pesto: 

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped 

  • 1 cup packed basil leaves

  • Handful (1/4 cup or so) fresh cilantro

  • 14 oz package shelled edamame, thawed

  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • optional: 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
For the Pasta: 

  • Cooking spray 
  • 10 oz spinach linguine or other pasta

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • Small red onion, in thinly sliced half moons

  • 1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Extra basil for garnish 

Put on a pot of salted water to boil. Then prepare the pesto:

Place garlic and basil in food processor and pulse a few times to get it chopped up. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula to make sure you get everything. Add a little more vegetable broth if it seems too stiff. Set aside until ready to use.

Preheat a large pan over medium heat. At this point your pasta water should be ready, so add the linguine
Saute onion in oil for about 5 minutes. Use a little cooking spray as needed, or a splash of water if you prefer.

Mix in mushrooms, garlic, thyme and salt. Cover pot and cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
The pasta should be ready now, so drain it.

When the mushrooms have cooked down, add pasta to the pan, along with the pesto. Use a pasta spoon to stir and coat the linguine. Get everything good and mixed and the pesto heated through, about 3 minutes. The pesto should be relatively thick, but if it’s too thick (not spreading out and coating the pasta) add a few tablespoons of water. Taste for salt.

Serve immediately, garnished with a little fresh chopped basil.

Adapted from Appetite for Reduction and www.theppk.com

PS: That sure is ONE big basil leaf taking over the picture, huh!

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