Feb 21, 2011

Three Green Vegetable Penne Pasta with Pesto

Three Green Vegetable Penne!

Spring weather has certainly made quite the appearance this past week and you won’t find me complaining! It’s this time of year especially that I love being back home and living in the south. We had our touch of wintery weather, and even that was pretty mild compared to our brutal Chicago winters! The weather was actually so nice we went ahead and cleaned up our balcony, put all the lights up and had a date-night-in dinner outside! Delicious food, good company and beautiful weather! The meal for date night was a bit more labor intensive than something I make for a normal week night meal so I’ll save that for another post. In spirit of the beautiful weather I wanted to share something with bright color and fresh flavors! This three green vegetable penne pasta is packed with nutrition and certainly does not lack in the color or fresh flavor category!

Here’s everything you’ll need:


(Adapted from Rachel Ray. Serves 2 dinner portions.)

  • 1 1/2 cup dried penne pasta
  • 1/4 pound asparagus
  • 1 small zucchini
  • handful green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup tarragon leaves
  • small handful flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lemon zested
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • black pepper
  • olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the penne pasta. Let cook for about 10 minutes, or al dente.

While the water warms up and the penne starts to cook, you can get your vegetables ready and your pesto mixed. Both are super simple. For the pesto, it’s easiest to use a food processor. In the processor, throw in the pine nuts, basil, tarragon, parsley, lemon zest, garlic clove, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Pulse until everything is completely mixed and then slowly pour in olive oil until the pesto reaches the consistency of your liking. Some like it more saucy than others so it’s completely up to you how smooth you make it. You can also add some pasta water to the pesto to smooth things out.

For the vegetables, trim the green bean ends and cut at an angle into 2-inch pieces. The asparagus can be cut into the same size and the zucchini is best if you cut it into matchstick pieces. Keeping everything about the same size will help with cooking things evenly and in the same time.

Three green vegetables: zucchini, green beans, and asparagus.

After the penne has cooked half way (about 5 minutes) drop the vegetables in the same pot with the pasta. Let the vegetables cook for 2 minutes and in the case that your pasta needs a few minutes, remove the vegetables from the water with a slotted spoon. You can keep them in a bowl covered with tinfoil to keep them warm.

When the pasta is done, drain, (add your vegetables if they were done earlier), and pour in the pesto. Give everything a big stir so that the pesto covers all the pasta and vegetables.

Pasta, veggies and pesto tossed.

All that is left is to serve. An extra sprinkle of cheese certainly doesn’t hurt!

Ready to eat!

This meal is so easy to put together and a perfect dinner pick after a long day! Pasta is always an easy go to meal after an exhausting day but vegetables keep it light and the pesto brings all the flavor! It’s meals like this that allow me to get through a mile long to-do list every day and still manage to put together an actual home cooked meal. It doesn’t have to be labor intensive or take a long time. It just takes fresh ingredients and flavors and a little bit of time! For now, that’s three green vegetable penne pasta with pesto…in the shell of a nut!

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