45 Pesto Dishes in 52 Weeks

2017. A new year full of potential possibilities, including new and delicious dishes. Last year, my husband handed me a pamphlet with 50 pesto recipes and I had a marvelous idea. I will create recipes around the different types of pesto. I read through each and every recipe, picked out the ones that appealed to my husband and myself, and ended up with 45 pesto recipes to create dishes around. Thus, 45 Pesto Dishes in 52 Weeks was born. Join me as I explore these dishes with a sense of adventure and creativity.

January 29, 2017- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun dried tomatoes are not a new ingredient for me. I love using them to brighten dishes and salads. I have recently started buying them without the oil. I can definitely tell the difference in color, texture and freshness. I remove them from the package and reconstitute them in olive oil, I prefer the Spanish Olive Oil from Krogers. Then store them in an air tight jar in the pantry. They will then last for up to six months, if you don't use them before then. 
I love to experiment with different ingredients for the thick cut pork chops. We have tried anything from sweet (apples and raisins) to savory (spinach and mozzarella). This dish is, hands down, my favorite. I paired it with sauteed onions, pine nuts, sun dried tomato and spinach pasta. I hope you will enjoy this as much as we did. 

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

2 cups fresh basil
2 cups fresh parsley
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Oil from the sun dried tomatoes

-->Puree all ingredients in a food processor except the oil. 
-->While machine is running, slowly drizzle the oil from the sun dried tomatoes to create constancy desired. 

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Stuffed Pork Chops over Sauteed Spinach Pasta

3 Thick Cut Pork Chop, you can use bone-in or boneless
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Gluten Free Pasta, cooked per package
1 Container Baby Spinach
1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes
1/4 cup Pine Nuts
1/2 cup Yellow Onions, sliced
2 Slices Bacon, diced
Juice of 1 Lemon
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 Parmesan Cheese

-->Preheat oven to 375*, line baking pan with parchment paper. 
-->Slice a pocket into each pork chop and stuff with sun dried tomato pesto. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice (reserve half the lemon for the pasta.) Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 145*F.
-->While the pork chops are baking, render the bacon in a large skillet over med-hi heat. Remove bacon from pan.
-->Saute onions, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes until onions soft. Add cooked pasta, spinach, and lemon juice to pan. Mix together with salt and pepper until spinach starts to wilt. Remove from heat and add cheese. 
-->Remove pork chops from the oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. 
-->Enjoy with a glass of white wine. Happy Eating!

January 28, 2017: Tomato Basil Pesto

I love tomatoes. No, seriously, love tomatoes. My favorite is a fresh picked, warm still from the sun, tomato; sliced on fresh baked bread with a sprinkle of salt. Yum! This next pesto recipe was a no brainer for me. Pairing it with a classic dish and you have a treat. 
My husband makes the best stuffed peppers, so I stole his recipe for this dish. Only changing one ingredient: he uses green bell peppers, they always taste bitter to me when baked. So I changed the green bell peppers to red, yellow, or orange bell peppers. Enjoy!

Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Basil Pesto

Tomato Basil Pesto

1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh parsley
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil

-->In a food processor, puree tomatoes with bail, parsley, almonds, garlic, and salt. 
-->Slowly drizzle in olive oil while food processor is on to create the constancy desired.  

Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Basil Pesto

1 lb ground meat, I usually use ground turkey
4 bell peppers in a variety of colours. (I prefer the yellow and purple kind)
1 cup uncooked minute brown rice, use must use the minute rice, otherwise you will have to cook rice before adding to meat mix
1 cup diced onions
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
S&P to taste
Tomato Basil Pesto

-->Preheat oven to 375*. Add olive oil to bottom of baking dish.
-->Mix meat, rice, onions, celery, tomato paste, and s&p together in a large bowl. 
-->Cut tops off of the bell peppers, de-seed and remove ribs. Place in baking dish. 
-->Divide meat mixture into 4 equal parts. Stuff the peppers. Cover with tomato basil pesto.
-->Cover and bake for 1 hour, until meat is cooked through.
-->Serve with a salad and a nice red wine. Enjoy!

January 22, 2017: Classic Pesto

It just seems natural to start out this adventure with the classic recipe. The classic involves a combination of basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Just about everyone who has encountered pesto has tasted this classic in one form or another. The classic recipe is gluten free but not dairy free. I had to come up with an alternative to the cheese or leave it out completely. Thankfully, Publix had a dairy free, gluten free Parmesan cheese available; which actually tastes very good. 
Now that I had the basics, I had to decide how to pair it. The typical meal that is paired with pesto is chicken and pasta. I knew I wanted something different but still including pasta. I had previously made a vegetarian dish with zucchini and chickpeas over pasta that was quite delicious but I felt it lacked something. Light bulb! Let's add ground meat, sun dried tomatoes and pesto. Viola! We now have the first pesto meal of 2017. 

Pan Fried Chickpeas & Sauteed Zucchini Over Gluten Free Pasta with Classic Pesto

Classic Pesto

4 cups Fresh Basil
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

-> In a food processor, combine basil, nuts, garlic and salt
-> Slowly drizzle in olive oil until you reach desired consistancy
-> Fold in cheese and set aside.

Pan Fried Chickpeas & Zucchini over GF Pasta with Classic Pesto

1 lb Ground Turkey Meat
1 can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Zucchini, sliced thick in 1/2 moons
1 small Onion, sliced
1/4 Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil
1 Package of Gluten Free Pasta, your choice, cooked according to package
Classic Pesto
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Vegetable broth

->In a large skillet, on med-hi, heat 2 Tbsp Olive Oil and "fry" up chickpeas until toasty. (They will start to pop off the pan, kinda like popcorn, when they are done.) Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside. 
->Add 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil to pan, brown meat and saute onions. When meat is half way cooked, add zucchini and sun dried tomatoes. 
->When meat is browned, add chickpeas, vegetable broth. Let simmer for 5 minutes. 
->Add pesto to pasta, stirring until pasta is well coated. Move pasta to large serving bowl and top with meat mixture. 
->Serve with your favorite dry wine and gluten free bread.