Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Basil pesto is my favorite pasta sauce and I make use of every opportunity to try this out at restaurants.This is a dish I prepare quite frequently for dinner and my husband loves it! You can also try this recipe with grilled broccoli or zucchini instead of mushrooms. Pesto is such a versatile sauce that it not only tastes good with pasta but goes great will grilled fish, meat or potatoes. The most common type of pesto prepared is from basil and pine nuts but can also be prepared using parsley and walnuts or cilantro and almonds. All you need is to put on your creative hat when using pesto!

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Ingredients:

Penne pasta – 1/2 pound
Button mushrooms – 1/2 pound (Approx. 2 cups)
Parmesan cheese – 1/4 cup
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Pepper – 1/2 tsp

For the pesto:
Basil leaves – 2 cups
Garlic, chopped – 2 to 3
Pine nuts – 1/4 cup
Olive oil – 1/3 cup
Parmesan cheese, grated – 1/4 cup
Salt – to taste
Pepper – 1/2 tsp

Method:

  • Fill a large pot with salted water and bring it to a boil
  • Add the penne pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes until the pasta is al dente
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the mushrooms
  • Add salt and pepper and saute for 10 minutes until all the water released by the mushrooms is absorbed and the mushrooms turn golden brown. Set aside
  • Prepare the pesto by placing the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a mixer or food processor
  • Pulse a few times until the ingredients are coarsely chopped
  • Slowly start adding the olive oil. Grind until you get a smooth paste
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it. Reserve few tablespoons of the pasta water
  • Add the pesto to the pasta and toss well. Use as much pesto as needed to coat the pasta well. Make sure the pasta is not too hot as this will cause the pesto to lose its bright green color
  • Use some of the saved pasta water if you feel the pasta is drying out
  • Add the mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve immediately

Tip: Refrigerate any remaining pesto in an air-tight container and use it the next day as a sandwich spread or as a topping for an omelette.

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