Yes, I know it's Monday. Today is usually Mystery Spice Monday around here, but I think we're gonna take a little break from the Mystery Spices and instead turn our (and by our I mean my) attention to the garden. Hopefully some of you also have gardens that are producing fresh veggies that you must find a use for and you'll be able to use some of my ideas in your own kitchen over the coming months.
I'll share my recent garden pictures tomorrow, but to give you just a little hint of what it looked like after a week of rain and sunshine...
Yup, looks like it's time for some eatin'! In the foreground is my strawberry patch, and this year I decided to plant some lettuce in between the berry plants to make use of the space. Behind that on the right you can see my overabundance of spinach and bok choy. So I had to come up with some meals including them FAST!
Father's Day presented an excellent opportunity! My family was hosting a BBQ at a local park. So I offered to bring the pasta salad. We had this excellent store bought pasta salad while in California last week and I've been itching to replicate it at my house ever since! Mine is quite a bit different since I used my own sauce rather than Italian dressing (which was totally delish too!). And if you don't have huge quantities of fresh spinach at your disposal you could always just buy some pre-made pesto sauce or Italian dressing. That's probably what I'll do next time. :)
While my water was boiling and my pasta was cooking I went to work picking and washing my spinach. I'm guessing that I had about 4 cups of spinach. And yes, I washed every single little leaf. I don't know about you but I'm not a fan of bugs in my salad.
I stuffed as much spinach as I could into my food processor. Then I added a 1/2 cup of pine nuts, 3 garlic cloves, and 1 T of dried basil.
Blend it a bit, and add in more leaves. You might have to stop every now and then and use a spatula to push down the leaves and/or add more oil.
Once it's pretty well combined add 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese. Blend, then add salt to taste.
By now your pasta should be ready. Secret to good pasta? Add salt to the water while it's cooking. Otherwise it'll come out bland and tasteless.
I used corkscrew pasta, just in case you were wondering.
Next, the fun stuff! The original pasta I ate on our trip had artichokes, olives, red onions and I think that's about it. When I was at the store I kept seeing other stuff that I thought would be good so I just grabbed whatever tickled my fancy. There are no rules to this, just add whatever you like.
I used artichoke hearts... As you already know, I LOVE artichokes!
Olives. Another thing I love! You could use Kalamata's instead if you like.
Red onions... yum!
Roasted red peppers. I used about 1/2 a jar and diced them up.
Capers. Because I LOVE 'em! Oh man... just posting these pictures is makin' me hungry! Good thing I have leftovers! lol
And feta cheese! VOILA! One of the most scrumptious pasta salads ever if I do say so myself!
It was a big hit at the Father's Day pic-nic. One of my relatives thought I was pulling everyone's leg when I said the sauce came from my garden. lol
Pasta Salad with Fresh Spinach Pesto
4 cups of spinach
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
Enough olive oil to blend
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in food processor. Taste and adjust flavors as needed.
1 lbs. of pasta, cooked, salted & drained
1 jar of artichoke hearts
1 can of whole black olives (or kalamata olives)
1 red onion, diced
1 block of feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 jar of roasted red peppers
2 T capers
Toss pasta with Spinach Pesto Sauce, then add all other ingredients. You may add grilled chicken or shrimp if you like.
So what fun things have you made from your garden lately? If you've shared about it on your blog feel free to leave the link in a comment! :)