Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Homemade Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes

I have mentioned in a past post that I have been trying to plan meals that involve "cleaner" eating. A major part of that has been signing up for Plow to Porch, a fantastic local organic fruit & vegetable delivery service here in Santa Barbara. I have a very good friend that taught me that eating locally is actually, in general, better/more helpful for the environment than eating organic. I live in Santa Barbara. It doesn't get much easier to eat locally than here. We have a ton of Farmer's Markets (including one that is about a block and a half from home, twice a week), and there are a lot of local farmers growing great things. I even went to high school with twins who were growing up on one of the bigger local farms. So why do I need a special service to eat locally? I hate making decisions! I needed someone else to tell me what looks good week to week and then I could plan my meals from there. I have been so happy with the service so far. It is similar to a CSA (community supported agriculture), but without the season long commitment, and with delivery to boot!

My first box arrived a few weeks ago, and I decided to immediately cook up this homemade pesto with Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Green Garlic. I roasted the tomatoes & garlic in a 400 degree oven until they were just starting to get color. Meanwhile, I placed a large bunch of basil, a 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts into my Magic Bullet and blended the heck out of it all. When the garlic and tomatoes were done, I added the whole head of green garlic cloves into the pesto as well (green garlic is much more mellow than regular, especially roasted) and blended that up. There was not very much pesto sauce, maybe a couple Tablespoons, and I was worried there wouldn't be enough when I added it to my pasta & chicken. That problem was solved when I poured the tomatoes and their sweet juices into the mix. The juices thinned out the sauce a little (and added so much sweetness!). This was a delicious meal, although the husband thought I used too many tomatoes. Funny, because I could have doubled them and still wouldn't have had enough for me, they were so delicious and sweet! I'm so excited for the fruits & vegetables we get to enjoy with Plow to Porch!

Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes & Green Garlic (my recipe)
1 large bunch basil
1/4 cup + 2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese
1 pint cherry tomatoes (mine were rainbow heirloom)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 head green garlic
12 oz boneless chicken breast, cubed
1/2 lb short cut whole wheat pasta (like bowties or rotini)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions. In 9" x 13" roasting pan, mix tomatoes, salt & pepper and 2 tsp olive oil. Cut the top off green garlic head and toss into roasting pan. Roast until juices are flowing and tomatoes and garlic are just starting to carmelize, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, blend basil, walnuts, parmigiano cheese & olive oil in food processor, blender or Magic Bullet until very smooth. Add cooled garlic, separated into cloves and blend well. Cook cubed chicken breast in nonstick skillet until cooked through. Add chicken, pesto, tomatoes and tomato juices into drained pasta and combine well. Serve immediately or allow to cool and serve as a cold pasta salad.

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