End-of-the-Week Pasta with Parsley-Pistachio Pesto, Garbanzos, and Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Monday, June 10, 2013

I’ll bet I’m not the only one whose cupboards look bare by week’s end, right?

I usually go to the Copley Square farmers’ market on Friday for precisely this reason but was terribly uninspired due to the massive downpour here in Boston. I was thus forced to be creative to get dinner on the table. I had a couple of bunches of parsley in the fridge alongside various vegetables (no salad greens), and a handful of cherry tomatoes remaining on the countertop.

Recalling the June issue of Bon Appétit featuring parsley pesto, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to “cook the cover” (as they like to put it) in a just-as-tasty but better-for-you-fashion. In other words, the P. K. Way.

The pesto, of course, is the star of this dish—which is why it has its very own post where you can find the recipe. Now, while there’s certainly nothing wrong with a simple pasta-and-pesto supper, I felt the dish would benefit from a nutrient, color, and texture boost through the addition of garbanzos and tomatoes. (Blistering is what happens when you roast them at high heat for fifteen minutes or so.) Though it’s ridiculously easy to make dried beans from scratch—here’s how—I didn’t have any this time; I always have a few no-salt added cans in the pantry for precisely this reason. I also used whole grain spaghetti, which is far more nutritious than white—here’s why—and, trust me, the taste can be acquired if you give it a chance. (I used to eat white pasta too, you know.) When putting the dish together, you’ll want to add a little of the starchy pasta water to create the sauce, by the way; add a bit at a time to achieve the proper consistency.

This meal came together very quickly, since I boiled the pasta while the tomatoes were blistering and the pesto was pulsing. I even had enough time to make a colorful chopped salad with a variety of veggies I had hanging around the fridge. I included a few garbanzos and tomatoes (for unity) along with cucumber, red cabbage, purple onion, and black radish. Nothing special, just what I had. (I love me a good chopped salad—here’s another example, and another.)

This meal was absolutely sensational.

Way beyond my expectation. (I had never made this pesto before.)

Here’s an action shot for you.

The moral of this story? First, if you haven’t gone “whole grain” yet when it comes to pasta, it’s time. (Not eating pasta? Here’s a post about healthy whole grains with a bit of science on gluten-free and Paleo diets.) Second, adding beans and veggies to your meal whether in a pasta dish or salad is a sure way to give your diet a nutrition boost. (More details on what a healthy diet should look like are here.) Also, it looks pretty and tastes delicious.

Finally, the biggest learning, at least for me, is to think out of the box when it comes to pesto.

I’m certainly glad that I did.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

Copyright © 2011-2018 P.K. Newby. All Rights Reserved.

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