Wednesday, June 22, 2011

pizza and pasta night

We were having some buds over for dinner on Wednesday, and wanted to make something fun, tasty, and easy to clean up so we could spend time hanging out. We had a lot of greens to use. We had basil, spinach, swiss chard, and some beet greens that I saved from the beets I made popsicles with. (A side note: if you don't save your beet greens when you get them, you totally should. They are delcious and packed with nutrients. It saddens me when I see people at the farmers market or grocery store rip them off and throw them away. I think I will start asking them if I can have them...) The pesto we made for the pizza has spinach in it. Have kids who don't like green veggies? Throw them in pesto, you can't even tell they are there!

Since we had just finished unpacking some of our amazing wedding presents we decided to use a few of them; namely the amazing Vitamix, and a cast iron pizza stone. So here is what we made. It was quick, easy, a breeze to clean up, and it tasted awesome!

Party Time Pasta Ingredients:
1 lb. Pasta, we used Orechiette
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 package Veggie Italian Sausage (or real sausage if you like), sliced into bite sized pieces
1/2 Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Yellow and 1/2 Red Pepper, diced
4 cups assorted Greens, we used Beet and Swiss Chard, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (optional)
salt, pepper, and pepper flakes to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large saute' pan over medium high heat. Add the sausage into the pan, and cooked until both sides are browned, about 10 minutes. Remove sausage and set to the side. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, garlic, and peppers. Cook until onions are translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the greens handful by handful. Combine pasta, sausage, and veggies in a large bowl and sprinkle with Pecorino.


Pesto Pepper Pizza:
1 Fresh or Frozen Pizza Dough (we like the whole wheat one from Whole Foods)
1 bunch Basil
1 bunch Spinach
3 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 lb. shredded low moisture part-skim Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 Red and 1/2 Yellow Pepper, sliced into rings
grated Pecorino Romano for topping (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with the pizza stone inside. Roll out your dough and place it on a well floured pizza peel (hopefully you have one if you have a stone, if not a large serving platter can work.) Put the spinach, basil, oil, garlic, and lemon juice into your blender (or food processor) and blend until smooth. (This recipe makes about 1.5 cups, so you will have some leftover pesto, but that's a good thing right?) Top pizza dough with pesto, cheese, and peppers (and whatever else you would like to throw on there), and place it carefully on the pizza stone. Bake for 7-9 minutes (yep, that's it), and remove from the oven. Give it a minute or two to cool down once you remove it from the stone, it's like lava hot at this point.

There you have it, an easy, vegetable centered dinner for 4-8 people in under an hour with only 3 or 4 big dishes to clean. Not too shabby for a weekday, eh?


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