by Kelly Dumke
With midterms in full swing and finals lurking around the corner, you may find yourself in a time crunch where cooking (even for nutrition students) is the furthest thing from your mind. Pesto is a simple, inexpensive, and delicious way to add flavor to many dishes without loading on the calories. Traditional pestos are packed with oil and cheese, but this simple version packs in flavor without expanding your waistline. I call it “poor man’s pesto” because it ‘s made with inexpensive spinach instead of basil and walnuts instead of pine nuts.
Make one batch of this pesto and try these three nutritious, delicious, and quick recipes to stave off those finals munchies!
Variation #3: Spinach Pesto Pasta
The spinach pesto can be served as a sauce over many types of pasta dishes…this is just one tasty variation.
1. Boil 1 serving (2oz) fettuccini noodles according to package directions drain, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water. Return the fettuccini to the hot pasta pot.
2. Add 2 Tbs. of spinach pesto or enough to coat the pasta. To make the pesto easier to toss with the pasta, add tablespoonfuls of the reserved pasta water as you toss.
3. Toss in some sliced sun-dried tomatoes, sautéed onion, and add a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. For a protein punch, try adding grilled chicken or sausage or for some added color add roasted asparagus or steamed broccoli.
Variation #2: Spinach Pesto and Feta Omelets
Great anytime of the day!
1. Add three eggs or egg whites into a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Immediately whisk in about 1 ½ Tbs. of the spinach pesto and a bit of salt and pepper.
2. Allow the eggs to set-up for about 1 minute (still slightly liquid on top). Add about ¼ cup feta cheese, ½ cup chopped fresh spinach, and 2 Tbs. chopped onion to one side of the omelet.
3. Flip the other side of the omelet atop the spinach-feta side.
4. Allow the omelet to cook for about one more minute (until the eggs just are cooked through). Remove from the pan and top with more pesto, assorted salsas, or serve on its own!
Variation #1: Cheese, Tomato, and Pesto Panini
This makes a great appetizer if sandwiches are cut in bite-size pieces!
1. Cut a sourdough or French bread baguette lengthwise and spread both sides with the spinach pesto.
2. Add thin slices of Brie cheese to one side, top with sliced tomatoes, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
3. Toast the sandwich in the oven, toaster oven, George Foreman grill, or panini press until the cheese melts and the bread is toasty.
*If you’re not a fan of tomatoes try roasted red peppers.