Sunday, May 22, 2011

SND: Pesto!

Eight more days left of my 30 day no meat diet! Truth be told, it's been difficult, but not as hard as I thought.  Perhaps I have mother nature to thank tho, since the weekends have been too rainy to bbq.  Would I have had to restrain from eating burgers cooked on the grill every weekend...well let's just say I'd either be a super grump, or I would have failed my diet.

Anyway, since starting my no meat diet there has been a serious lack of posting recipes here.  The last three SNDs didn't even make it.  So now here I am, like a bad boyfriend with a bouquet of gas station purchased roses the day after Valentine's day, with a new recipe.

This recipe features one of my favorite herbs that just so happens to be one of the most elusive things for me to grow and maintain...

Basil Pesto Penne and Meatballs

This was Hubster's bowl...mine was sad without the meatballs

For pesto sauce
- 2 cups packed basil leaves (washed and dried)
- 3 cloves garlic (quartered)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper

For meatballs
- 3 slices of whole wheat bread (crusts removed)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3 scallions (mine were fresh from my garden! yay I can grow things!)
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup pesto sauce
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 TBS olive oil

For sauce
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup light cream
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- salt
- 1/4 cup basil (finely chopped)
- reserved pesto sauce
- 1 ladle-full of reserved pasta water

Let's get started shall we?

Prepare the breadcrumbs for the meatballs.  If you use pre-made breadcrumbs you can skip this step, but I prefer to make my own cuz...well it's simple.  Break up the de-crusted bread and put into a small food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs. 

Once your bread is all crumby, transfer into a large bowl and add 1/4 cup of cold milk and combine well.  Set aside.  Unless you have more than one mini food processor, wash and dry because you'll need it again.  

Make your pesto sauce.  Again, you can always buy the pre-made stuff in the grocery store, but I prefer to make my own.  In your now clean mini food processor, combine the pine nuts and garlic and pulse until combined.  Add the basil, pulse again until a paste is formed.  Add the olive oil, cheese, a couple grinds of salt and pepper then pulse again.  Taste. 

If you're like me and you used two regular sized cloves of garlic and one huge clove, your pesto will taste a little hot.  If that happens, add a few more pine nuts and cheese and pulse.  Once you get your pesto to how you like it, set aside and start on the meatballs.

On a baking sheet, pour the flour.  Combine the ground beef with all the ingredients except for the flour (cuz you already just used it, duh) and olive oil.  Once everything is well combined, begin forming your meatballs.  After all your meatballs are formed, roll them in flour. 

In a large skillet or saucepan (or in my case my favorite dutch oven) heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Once the oil is heated, place your meatballs in to brown.  Once browned, add the broth and cream.  Bring to a boil and then simmer to allow the meatballs to cook through and the sauce to thicken (if after 10 minutes or so your sauce is too thin for your liking, add some more cream). 

Happy meatballs swimming in yummy sauce

While the meatballs are simmering in the sauce, start cooking the pasta.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain (remember to reserve some pasta water!) and add to the meatballs and sauce.  Add the cheese and salt.  Make sure everything is well combined.  Depending on how thick/thin you like your sauce to be add some of the reserved pasta water.  Once everything is well coated, add the reserved pesto sauce and chopped basil and mix well.  Serve with an extra small sprig of basil to make it pretty and some parmesan. 

Oh...and while I was uploading the pics for this meal, I realized I never posted my recipe for Oreo truffle balls!!! Stay tuned...those will be coming this week :)

{ cindie }


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