It’s St. Patrick’s week, and I wanted to feature a few “green” recipes…the actual color…not environmentally friendly recipes (which would be easier to come up with!)…As I thought about it, pesto kept coming to mind, and I kept dismissing it…I hate pesto…at least I thought I did until I tried my dear friend Heidi Kellar’s recipe. Heidi graciously prepared this for my family and I after I had our third child. When she told me she was bringing pesto, I’ll admit…I was skeptical…Then, I tried it, and kept trying it until my plate was empty! She made me a believer. If you’ve never tried pesto before, this is a great recipe to start out with. The flavor is very mild, and can be made year-round, as it does not call for as much fresh basil as some recipes. The sauce is not the typical pesto green, so you may be able to trick a picky eater into eating it by passing it off as regular spaghetti. (Both of my children had no problem eating this meal! Kids love pasta, and I love that this recipe has so many healthy ingredients!)

Heidi gives the tip of preparing this in bulk during the summer months, when fresh basil is more readily available, and freezing dinner-sized portions of the sauce. Make it once, and have it on hand for several months! Awesome supermom tip!

Here is what you’ll need:

1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded
1/3 c firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (spread on cookie sheet; bake at 350 for 5-10 mi. or until golden brown, stirring occasionally)
4 garlic cloves
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c grated Parmesan
1/4 t salt
8 oz uncooked linguine
2 T milk
2 T hot water
2 T grated Parmesan

To Prepare:

1. Place bell pepper halves, cut side down, on broiler pan.  Broil 4-6 in. from heat for 8-10 min. or until skins are charred.  Place pepper halves in brown paper bag for 10 min.  Peel peppers and discard skin.

2. To make pesto, in food processor bowl with metal blade or blender container, combine bell pepper halves, basil, pecans, garlic and oil; process until smooth.  Transfer mixture to small bowl.  Add 1/3 c cheese, salt and pepper; mix well.

3. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, cook linguine to desired doneness as directed on package.  Drain; leave in strainer.  Place pesto in same saucepan.

4. Add milk and hot water; cook and stir over med. heat 1 min. or until thoroughly heated.  Add linguine; toss gently to coat.  Spoon mixture onto serving platter; sprinkle with 2 T cheese.  If desired, garnish with chopped fresh basil or parsley.  Serve immediately.

Note: This recipe works will with add-ins as well.  We have tried imitation crab and diced cooked chicken breast.  Both yummy!

I hope you will give this pesto recipe a try! If you’re not into cabbage and corned beef, this may be the perfect St. Patrick’s day meal! I promise..this pesto…is the besto! (Yep, I said it, and I’m not even the littlest bit ashamed!) Happy cooking!