Recipes that can be transformed from one dish into another and that hold up well as leftovers are really appealing to my schedule. I usually leave home early in the morning and don’t return until after dark, sometimes toting along more work. So, recipes like these which make for a quick and easy weeknight meal using a combination of fresh and prepared ingredients are lifesavers.
On Wednesday night, I stopped into Russo’s on 7th Avenue and picked up a loaf of fresh bread, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, a package of whole wheat linguine, a jar of spicy marinara sauce, one bunch of fresh basil and a wedge of pecorino romano. I added in a few ingredients waiting in my kitchen to be used – one bunch of mint, a handful of pine nuts and a few dried red chili peppers.
The result was a spicy pesto sauce which yielded 3 dishes – a hearty dinner, a quick snack and a savory breakfast. Thus, Spicy Pesto 3 Ways. Here’s the first: Whole Wheat Pasta with Spicy Pesto Marinara. Stay tuned for the other two.
|Spicy Basil-Mint Pesto
~makes about 2 cups~
I made this pesto using mint in part because I’ve become convinced that anything green can be made into pesto (basil, cilantro, mint, etc.) and because the mint in my fridge was threatening to go bad. It gave a really nice pop to the pesto that lingered in my mouth and balanced the spice of the red chilis and creaminess of the basil.
Making the Spicy Pesto:
*For a milder garlic flavor, you can blanche the garlic pieces before using. Put the peeled garlic cloves in a saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil. Drain and then use as you would otherwise.
Spicy Pesto First Way: Whole Wheat Pasta with Spicy Pesto Marinara
Making Pesto Marinara: Now that you’ve made the pesto, all of the work is done (although it goes so quickly that it hardly feels like work). Heat the jar of marinara in a sauce pan on medium-low. Add about one and a half cups of the pesto and mix in. I like to keep a nice balance between the pesto and marinara, so I know I’ve reached the right level when the sauce has a red-green look to it. Enjoy over wide noodles, like the whole wheat linguine we had, or penne or rigatoni. I would avoid angel hair pasta since the pesto tends to overpower thin, delicate noodles.
Suggested additions: A few handfuls of tuscan white beans would have gone nicely with this pasta with the added benefit of providing a dose or protein.
Another spicy pasta dish you might enjoy is Roasted Tomato Vindaloo Sauce.