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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Penne w. Roasted Peppers & Spinach Pumpkin Seed Pesto

I love pesto. There are thousands of combinations of nuts and greens that can be wizzed together with garlic, lemon, and olive oil to form new, and nutritious, toppings for pasta, sandwiches, and dips. A quick and easy way to add a ton of flavor and make an old dish new and exciting!

This is my September favorite. Pumpkin seeds (or pepitas), fresh spinach, lemon, garlic, olive oil - so easy, delicious, and best of all, healthy. Pumpkin seeds are often simply thought of as the hostages held in the slippery goop that you scoop out of pumpkins each Halloween, but pumpkin seeds can be eaten like any other seed or nut. They add a delicious salty crunch to salads, soup toppings, and in this case, pasta. Studies have found that pumpkin seeds promote prostate health, protect Men's bones, have anti-inflammatory benefits, provide a rich source of healthful minerals, protein, and monounsaturated fats, and contain phytosterols that lower cholesterol.

Aren't these peppers beautiful! I picked them up at the West Tisbury Farmers Market. The flesh of the deep purple pepper was snow white-what a surprise.

Penne w. Roasted Peppers & Spinach Pumpkin Seed Pesto 

1 pound whole wheat pasta (for GF use your favorite GF pasta)
3 bell peppers, roasted, and cut into thin slices*
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, washed & chopped
1 batch Spinach Pumpkin Seed Pesto, below
4-6 ounces goat cheese (depending on how many people you're serving, 1 oz per person) obviously, leave out for vegan dinner.

Spinach Pumpkin Seed Pesto:
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups spinach
juice & zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

To make the pesto: Wizz everything together in a food processor. If the pesto looks too dry add a bit more olive oil. You will use some pasta water later to thin it out so don't make the pesto too thin. Also, the full teaspoon of salt makes this pesto salty - which is good for the pound of pasta but not so good as a sandwich spread etc. So, if you're making this pesto as a sandwich spread, dip, etc. start with a 1/2 teaspoon salt then check and add more if needed.

*To roast peppers: Toss whole peppers with olive oil, salt & pepper. Lay peppers directly on hot grill, directly on gas burner, or under broiler. Once first side is charred, rotate pepper to char every surface. Once nicely squishy & black all over, place peppers in paper bag and seal shut. Let bag sit for 10 minutes. The steam in the bag will make the skins become loose so you can skin, seed and chop the pepper.

Boil water, add salt, and cook pasta as per package instructions. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

When pasta is ready, toss hot pasta & pesto in large bowl. Add as much reserved pasta water as you need to loosen the pesto and coat all the noodles (I used about 1/3 cup). Mix in pepper slices and fresh spinach leaves. Taste and sprinkle with salt & freshly ground pepper.

When ready to eat, top each serving of pasta with 1 ounce round of goat cheese. This pasta is lovely hot, at room temperature, or slightly chilled, pretty easy huh?


  1. Great recipies, advice, and photo's!

  2. i love pumpkin seeds! and i'm so glad we have similar views on our walks around these streets!

  3. I love pumpkins I am definitely going to have to make this pesto! yummo:)

  4. great pesto recipes! What a nice dinner to have outside.

  5. Your site is delightful! The imagery and language is as delicious as the food!

  6. This is just wonderful. I'm putting this on my to-do list :) I love pesto!

  7. Hey Sarah- erica made this recipe and said she got it from your blog. it was delish! i will def be making this soon :) xoxo go rockets

  8. Julie, so funny & exciting! Wahooo! Can I be invited next time?!

  9. This recipe was a HUGE hit at my table. Even my one-year-old loved it!

  10. Hey Sarah!
    It's Hardy.
    I made this for a dinner party last night and it was SO GOOD!!! A smashing success. Especially with fresh pasta from Caputo's in Brooklyn-- handmade pasta. YUM!


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