A classic pesto sauce consists of fresh basil and pine nuts, but when basil is not in season, the thick fragrant sauce can easily be made with other herbs and greens. In this recipe the pesto is a blended mixture of spinach, arugula, parsley, and walnuts.
It's tossed with whole wheat pasta to create a dish that is healthful and filling. A heaping dollop of ricotta cheese laced with honey adds a touch of creamy sweetness to the pasta. For the recipe to this creative vegetarian dinner,
1 pound whole wheat penne rigate pasta
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1 cup packed spinach or baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup packed arugula leaves
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (a couple of generous handfuls)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon honey
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.
- In a small skillet, toast the nuts over medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 4 minutes; let cool.
- Using a food processor, puree the nuts, spinach, arugula, parsley and garlic; season with salt and pepper. With the machine on, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream and mix until a thick paste forms.
- Transfer the pesto to a large pasta bowl; stir in the parmigiano-reggiano and reserved pasta cooking water.
- In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and honey, season with pepper and set aside.
- Add the pasta to the pesto, toss and let stand for 1 minute. Serve with dollops of the honey ricotta.
- Pasta, Main Dishes