Once you have tossed your pasta and pesto together, any leftovers can be refrigerated. This actually makes a great cold pasta salad.
Additional mix-ins can create fun variations. Depending on the season, add halved cherry tomatoes, blanched asparagus spears (cook with the pasta during the final 2 to 3 minutes), fresh sautéed mushrooms.
1 batch pesto
1 pound dry pasta (see note)
1/2 cup cooking water reserved (use a large soup ladle to remove)
BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil.
COOK the pasta, uncovered, until it is tender but firm (al dente); the package gives a cooking time.
PUT pesto in a large bowl, for serving. Whisk about half of the reserved pasta cooking water into pesto. Add drained pasta to thinned pesto and toss well.
Note: Choose your favorite pasta shape for this colorful dish. Spaghetti and linguine are good choices, but my preference is the festive farfalle. Note the cooking time on the package -- all shapes have distinct cooking times.
Super Fast Marinara
No need to slow-simmer for hours -- this sauce cooks quickly.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cubes pesto (2 to 3 tablespoons)
HEAT oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
ADD the chopped onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the carrot and cook 1 minute.
INCREASE the heat to medium-high and stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Cook for about 10 minutes, adjusting heat to keep sauce at a soft bubble, not a raging boil, until juices are slightly reduced and sauce thickens.
ADD the frozen pesto cubes and stir to blend.
SERVE over cooked pasta, or use for lasagna. Or make a grilled mozzarella sandwich, cut into "sticks" and use the sauce for dipping.
April Hamilton has always said, "Cooking is fun!" She shares her easy, practical recipes for delicious food through her cooking classes for kids and families. April's husband and three daughters help with testing and tasting in their Charleston kitchen. April would love to hear from you: Email aprilskitchencoun...@gmail.com.