Spring Green Supper
The weather has been warm and breezy the past few days, and so I decided it was time to have our first spring supper on the deck. The menu was simple and healthy, and--almost unbelievably--everyone ate everything with no complaints, even though it was a decidedly "green" meal.
The inspiration for our supper came from a birthday brunch buffet I attended earlier in the month. The hostess served a number of rich and incredibly delicious dishes, but one of my favorites was a humble pasta salad. The salad was so tasty, full of earthy spring goodness. Of course, I came home and began searching both online and "on shelf" for a similar recipe. Not surprisingly, it was Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, who came to my rescue.
Although the recipe calls for two types of pasta, I decided that I'd use a full box, rather than leave two half boxes of noodles on the pantry shelf. I had whole grain penne on hand, and that worked fine. Basil pesto is a key ingredient in this dish, and the recipe suggests that commercially prepared pesto is suitable. Truly, the overall dish was extremely tasty, but I couldn't help thinking how much better it would have been if I'd had fresh, homemade pesto on hand. I will definitely make this again later in the summer with homemade pesto. The original recipe also calls for frozen spinach, but I used fresh and found that it worked very well.
Spinach and green peas combine with the pesto and--get this--a dollop of mayonnaise to make a really delicious main dish. Of course, it would be a great side dish for grilled chicken or fish, too.
I plan to add asparagus when I make this again. I served it with sliced cantaloupe and strawberries, which everyone loved.
Here's the recipe:16 oz penne pasta, cooked and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bag fresh spinach, washed and drained
1 1/2 cups pesto, homemade or prepared (I used Stonewall Kitchens brand.)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Duke's mayonnaise (the original recipe calls for a cup and a half!)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until done. Drain and toss into a large serving bowl with the olive oil. Add the spinach and stir gently until the spinach is slightly wilted. Add the pesto, lemon juice, and mayonnaise. Next add the peas and Parmesan. Mix well, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
What's your favorite meal to eat outside?