With such an active lifestyle finding meals that will replenish our energy is a must. Pasta is just the meal for that and has hence become part of our weekly menu - offering complex carbs, protein and depending on the vegetables a great source of vitamins & nutritents. However, I must admit when it comes to pasta recipes we tend to stick to the same type of tomato based dishes with slight variations. As I was getting tired of the same old thing, I decided to be adventureous and create a new pasta dish (spinach pesto penne with chicken)..
I am not one for cream sauces and find olive oil bases boring. Therefore I decided to try a pesto sauce. As I did not have basil, I used the baby spinach in my fridge and combined it with the following ingredients to make a really nice pesto that can be used on pasta, chicken, pizzas & grilled veggie sandwiches. I like pesto, but find that it can be overpowering. Using spinach rather than basil makes for a less pungent pesto (optional: add some basil leaves about 1 cup for that spicy aroma and flavor basil pestos offer).
4 cups of baby spinach, washed
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
a bit of lemon rind
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
Optional: add 1 cup basil leaves.
In a food processor combine spinach, walnuts, garlic & cheese and process until roughly chopped. Then slowly poor olive oil combined with lemon rind and lemon juice into processor while blending. Then add water the same way until the paste is smooth and thick. Remove from processor and store in fridge or freezer.
For a creamier pesto can combine with 60g of goat cheese or 50g of cream cheese. This makes for a nice spread on crackers or baguette. I used goat cheese with this pesto as the base for my pasta dish which will be posted soon.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Spinach contains is a source of iron (60g contains about 1.9mg), however the absorption of iron is improved greatly by combining it with citrus (Vitamin C), as it is a nonheme absorption enhancer. It also contains calcium, vitamin A, C, E, K, Magnesium, folate and antioxidants.
Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, with about 90% of a persons daily value. They are known to have health benefits for cardiovascular disease, asthma, rhematoid arthritis, inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema. Furthermore, they contain antioxidants that help the immune system and hold anti-cancer fighting properties.