Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto

I loved this. However, not everyone in my family did. Apparently to some people seeing green “sauce” on your pasta is weird. My girls are good eaters, but Taylor, my youngest has gotten a bit picky lately. Especially when stuff gets mixed together like this. So needless to say, I think she may have had an apple and a ham sandwich this night. We usually don’t do that, but occasionally you just have to know when to surrender to these battles.

This is a great choice for a meatless meal. You get your veggies from the broccoli and some protein from the cannellini beans. Half of the pasta was the Barilla plus and the other half was normal white pasta (because that is what I had.) There is also some freshly grated parm, olive oil and fresh garlic. Seriously…it’s green comfort food.

The only issue I had with this dish was that I don’t have a large food processor. My blender doesn’t do a good job chopping stuff up if there isn’t a decent amount of liquid. I do have a mini prep, but you can only put in so much at a time, so I did my best to make the pesto in batches. It worked ok, but it probably would have been a little smoother if I had a real food processor. It still tasted good so no biggie.

This recipe came from Martha’s Every Day Food magazine in their Light issue. They had a section on meatless meals and there were other recipes that sounded really good from that section – like cauliflower steaks with roasted pepper and tomato salad.

If you want some comfort food that is really a pretty healthy option I would definitely recommend this dish. You may be surprised how yummy green pasta can really be!

Source: Everyday Food January/February 2012

Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto
Recipe type: Main
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch broccoli cut into 1 inch pieces (4 cups)
  • 10 ounces short pasta (I used penne)
  • 5 teaspoons EVOO
  • ¼ cup finely grated parm with some more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves (I didn't use this because I didn't have any, but would try it next time with)
  • 1-2 small garlic cloves
  • 1 can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
  1. Cook broccoli until tender about 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer broccoli to a food processor. Boil water again and add pasta according to directions. Drain and reserve 2 cups of the pasta water for later. Return pasta to the pot.
  2. In the food process add oil, parm, lemon zest and juice, parsley and garlic. Process for about 2 minutes until nice and smooth. Add to pot with the pasta. Add enough water to this to make the sauce nice and creamy. Stir in the beans and heat until everything is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parm.
  3. Enjoy!

Thai Fresh Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

My girls are visiting their grandparents up in Maryland this week, so Jim and I have the place to ourselves. The funny thing is, we really haven’t done anything different than we usually do. I thought we might try some different meals this weekend, but we really didn’t. I just couldn’t think of anything to cook that my kids wouldn’t eat. We realized this weekend that we are really pretty content doing the things we typically do when the kids are around. We go on walks with our dog, sit on our deck and grill, run errands or other little outings…. and that is exactly what we ended up doing this weekend. They also eat pretty much anything that we serve, too so I really can’t complain on the food front, either. I did enjoy having a clean house and not having to break up little silly arguments all weekend, but that was really about it.

The one food flavor that my kids don’t do well however, is spicy. I decided that today I would attempt to recreate one of my favorite restaurant meals – Spicy Thai Basil Chicken. I don’t know about you, but I can’t have a respectable Thai meal and not have some type of a roll. So, I decided to make Thai Fresh Summer Rolls to go along with my Basil Chicken.

I didn’t really take into account how long it would take me to put everything together and I will say that I definitely got a workout tonight in the kitchen.  Neither dish takes all that long by itself, but when you make them at the same time, it does take a little while. There’s a lot of chopping and soaking and trekking outside to my herb garden. I was just finishing up when Jim came in the door and I didn’t have the table set like I had originally planned. Oh well, luckily Jim is great in the kitchen (sometimes even better than I am) so we worked together and got dinner on the table pretty quickly.

Both dishes were absolutely amazing so it was definitely worth all of the chopping and wrapping and grinding. Tonight I am going to share with you my recipe for the Summer Rolls and Peanut Sauce. These honestly tasted exactly like any roll that you would get in a restaurant. I made these vegetarian, but you could add some cooked chicken or shrimp  and they would be great. The sauce was awesome and had a bit of heat to it and a great peanut flavor. Once you have all of your food chopped and noodles soaked, they are really easy to assemble. The rice paper was really easy to work with and extremely forgiving. I was a little bit worried that they would be hard to wrap and I probably didn’t roll them as tight as I should have but they still looked and tasted great.

I definitely urge you to give these a try. They are pretty healthy and the fresh taste is awesome. I used the Thai Basil from my garden, however, if you don’t have access to Thai Basil you could also use  Cilantro, Mint or Italian Basil and any of these would be a fine substitute. I do love the flavor of the Thai Basil though and the plant in my herb garden is still going pretty strong, so I am going to use it until it kicks the bucket. You can buy the spring roll wrappers at some grocery stores in the Asian Foods section, but I got mine at the huge Asian market not too far from my house (which is a really fun place to go by the way.)  I  figured out how to put the rolls together myself, however the peanut sauce is from Steamy Kitchen.  She also has a spring roll recipe there which sounds fabulous and it has shrimp, mango and mint in it.  See, you can really change these up with lots of different flavors.

Enjoy these tonight! And then when you are done you can take the kids and the dog for a walk:-)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Thai Fresh Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Recipe type: Appetizer
  • Summer Rolls
  • 8 Spring Roll Wrappers
  • 1 Carrot cut into matchsticks
  • 1 Cucumber cut into matchsticks
  • ½ cup Thai Basil cut in a chiffonade
  • 2 oz rice vermicelli or bean threads
  • rice vinegar
  • Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed in garlic press
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tbsp chunky peanut butter
  1. For the spring rolls....
  2. Have all of your veggies prepped and dried thoroughly.
  3. Soak vermicelli in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain and then dry noodles on a paper towel. Toss with a few splashes of the rice vinegar.
  4. To assemble spring rolls soak the wrapper in warm water for 3-5 seconds. Lay flat on your work surface and cover the lower third with some of the vermicelli, carrots, cucumber and basil. Fold the filling over once so it is completely nestled in the wrapper and then fold each of the ends in (like you are rolling up a burrito.) Then roll the rest of the way as tight as you can without tearing the wrapper. Let finished rolls sit, seam side down on a plate.
  5. Serve with spicy peanut sauce.
  6. To make the peanut sauce, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook garlic and ginger until fragrant and then add remaining ingredients. Cook until thickened and then cool in the refrigerator before serving.