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Don’t overcook pork; take a try at pesto pasta

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I so appreciate all of the positive comments regarding the pork rub recipe I gave you a couple of weeks ago.

It was so funny because the very day I wrote the column, my daughter-in-law called and wanted to know if I had a good recipe for a pork loin. She wanted to fix a nice dinner for my son. However, he was getting a little tired of chicken and he wanted something different. Hence, my recipe came in really handy that day. The results from my son, “delicio.”

I had a friend in Connecticut who also wrote a food column, and she always said that any recipe you have for chicken can also be used for pork and vice versa. It stands to reason since both are considered a “white” meat, at least when you are considering what wine to serve.

I can remember as a child that I didn’t care for roast pork at all; it was always too dry for me and it seemed like I chewed it for hours. 

It doesn’t take that long to cook pork, so always make sure you have a meat thermometer and cook it only to 145 degrees and it should be perfect.

The other day I asked my husband what he would like for dinner.

I couldn’t believe it, he actually had an idea for me.  “Something with pasta,” he said. That’s always easy, but I decided to try something a little different. I give you:
 

Special Pesto Pasta

8 ounces uncooked pasta, spaghetti or linguine — whole wheat or regular (I prefer the whole wheat)

4 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach, washed

1 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt, divided

2 tbsp. water

2 1/2 tsp. olive oil, divided

4 cloves garlic, divided

2-1/2 tbsp. low-fat cream cheese, room temperature

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 carton cherry tomatoes

1/2 tsp. basil

Parmesan cheese, if desired

 In a food processor or blender, process spinach, water, 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil, 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 tsp. salt until smooth. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with the remaining 1 tsp. of salt to a boil. Add in pasta and cook as package directions states until al dente, which will be about 8-10 minutes. 

Next, line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Pour on 1 tsp. olive oil, then add on the cherry tomatoes, a sprinkling of Kosher salt, the 2 garlic cloves, minced and the 1/2 tsp. of basil. Mix all together with hands until tomatoes are slightly coated with the oil. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, just until the skin starts getting a little browned and crinkly looking.

When the pasta is done, drain it, setting aside about 1/2 cup of the water. Return pasta to pot, add the cream cheese until melted, gently blending. Add the spinach pesto and roasted tomatoes. Toss to combine.

You may need that reserved pasta water if you want a thinner consistency to the pasta. I preferred mine a little thinner.  Season with the fresh lemon juice.

At this point, you can also add in leftover grilled chicken or possibly some cooked shrimp to the mixture, if you like. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.  

This made enough servings for four people, so we had a nice leftover lunch the next day. Actually, it was even better reheated the next day because the herbs and seasonings  had time to meld together well. The verdict from my husband was, “This is really good.” I served it with a garden salad, which was all we really needed.

Enjoy!

Lonnie Sundermeyer is a retired professional caterer residing in Ghent, Ky.