Pesto Pasta (say that 3 times fast) and Grilled Portabellos

A day late, and a dollar short; more like a late blog but a tasty meal! In August we were treated to a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious vegetarian meal hosted by Chris and Jean. What was on the menu? Portabello mushroom filled with goat cheese or grilled spicy pepper cream cheese and topped with asparagus and balsamic reduction, bow tie pasta with pesto cream sauce, bruschetta and fresh fruit! This meal will take ~45 minutes to prepare, provided that you have helpers. Now that your mouth is watering, let’s get down to brass tacks and teach you how to make this delicious vegetable goodness.


  • 1-2 loves of French bread
  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 jar of kalamata olives
  • I jar artichoke hearts
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Chop the tomatoes and in a large bowl combine with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (to taste), toss. Slice the onions and saute in olive oil for ~5 minutes or until soft. Drain olives and artichoke hearts and put in separate bowls for consumption. Slice and toast the French bread loaves in the oven at ~400 degrees for 5 minutes (checking to ensure you do not over-toast). Place the desired amount of each topping on a slice of toast and enjoy!

Portabello Mushrooms & Asparagus

  • Whole portabello mushrooms (1-2 for each person you are planning to feed)
  • 1 bushel of asparagus (2-3 stalks will top each mushroom, plan accordingly)
  • 1 package of goat’s cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • garlic (as much or as little as you like — 3 cloves is good)

Create your sauce: combine salt, pepper, olive oil balsamic vinegar, and whatever spices you like (season to *your* taste). Place the mushrooms top down on a baking sheet and drizzle the sauce over each mushroom adding some minced garlic. Bake uncovered for ~15-20 minutes, then add goat cheese (or not) and allow to melt.

Steam the asparagus until it was just starting to get soft, then toss it in salt and pepper before finishing it up on the grill (or in the oven on a baking sheet for ~5 minutes if you have no grill) to get a nice crisp finish.

Pesto Pasta

  • Basil (we don’t know how much — we like a LOT)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Garlic (~3-4 cloves)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Lemon (to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, don’t cheat yourself with the canned stuff)
  • A bag of your favorite bow tie pasta (you thought we were fancy, you thought we would make it from scratch…but, no.)

Start with about 3 cloves of garlic, combined with the basil and the pine nuts and chop in a food processor, add oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. The consistency of the pesto will depend on what you’re going to use it for; more oil if it’s going on pasta, less if it’s for dipping or topping sandwiches. Add salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon to taste (put a little in, blend and see if you like it, then keep adding). We usually end up adding a couple more cloves of garlic but that’s because we like garlic a LOT. We also use really coarse salt, it helps with the texture/flavor. If you don’t have a salt grinder you can use kosher.

Boil your pasta rinse with cool water and drain. Combine the pesto and pasta in a large pot and stir until the pesto is distributed evenly. Top with grated Parmesan.

Choose your favorite summer fruit for dessert (suggestions: sliced mango, watermelon, berries, pineapple, or whatever tickles your fancy), slice, and serve!

Healthy eating does not have to be boring, or tasteless! Get out there and experiment, your taste buds (and your belly) will thank you! Our September veggie dinner was hosted by Jennifer and mmmm it was really good. I’m sure I won’t post that blog for another month, but, that gives you time to perfect this recipe, happy eating!