RECIPE: Farmer's Market Vegetable Pesto Pasta

OK. Yes, it's all back-to-school-palooza, and Joanne Fabrics has aisles and aisles of halloween stuff right now. But come on guys! It's still August and the farmer's markets are bursting with fresh produce-not to mention your own garden. In fact we are over run with tomatoes right now, our first big harvest was just last week!
Halloween is two whole months away.
Summer is short, enjoy every minute. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I love fall sweaters and pumpkin spiced lattes like the rest of you, but that will come in time.

Now go get your fresh produce on this beautiful August day and whip this up tonight.

You can use whatever vegetables you want in this, just sub in what I used. The key to this dish is a subtle technique that makes a huge difference that I discovered doing some research around pesto. I noticed some recipes calling for blanching the garlic. It tones down the bitter aftertaste of pesto making it creamy and sweet on the tongue. It's an extra step, but worth it. The chicken broth in the vegetables is a technique I always use to round out vegetable flavors in dishes that are olive oil based. You don't have tomatoes or cream to carry it, and chicken broth prevents a vegetable focused dish from being too bland. Of course, farm fresh vegetables have a lot more flavor on their own, so use that to your advantage. The chicken broth is just an added bonus. Be sure to reduce it down as I suggest or else you will have a soggy-soupy pasta.

Remember kids, it's still summer in my book! Let it be in yours too.

Farmer's Market Vegetable Pesto Pasta

Vegetables and Pasta:
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup hot water with 3/4 tsp. chicken broth bouillon granules, dissolved
1 zucchini or 4 globe zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow and 1/2 purple bell pepper (other colors can work except green, mix and match based on what the farm stand has)
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
1-1 1/2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in half
3/4 lb. rotini pasta (we used gluten free but you can use whatever you wish)

Pesto (makes about 1 cup, enough for the pasta and vegetables):
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 large clove garlic or 1 medium sized clove, cut into quarters
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup toasted pine nuts

Have extra grated cheese for garnish


Make the pesto. In a small bowl, mix the quartered garlic with enough water to cover them. Heat up the bowl in the microwave for about 1 minutes. Th water should heat a boil. Let sit for a few more minutes. Pull the garlic out and pat dry. Slice the garlic and add to a blender or food processor. Add the pine nuts, basil and cheese. Pulse a few times until finely chopped. During processing, add the olive oil and continue to process until a creamy sauce is formed. Set aside.

Now prep the vegetables. In a large saute pan, heat up the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion, and cook until translucent. Then add the peppers and cook until soft. Then add the zucchini and turn up the heat. Cook until the zucchini begins to brown. Add the chicken broth and simmer, reduce the liquid a little. Finally add the mushrooms. Cook until the liquid is reduced down until you just have 1-2 tablespoons left. Take off the heat and set aside while you cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to package directions in slated water. Halfway through cooking time, add the green beans to the pot so they blanch nicely with the pasta. When the pasta is al dente, drain the pot.

Reheat the vegetables in the pan and toss in the pasta with the green beans. Finally add the pesto and toss around until everything is heated through. Serve hot with extra grated cheese.



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