Next up on Brown Bag Lunch month I bring you, Pesto Pasta. I’ve made this pasta dish to have more veggies and goodies in it than pasta. I like to make sure that lunch is a healthy meal!
I thought I’d share some of the rules I’ve learned that help make brown bag lunch a good experience.
- – Lunch should fit in one to-go container and not require much fussing or prep work to eat. I’ve tried doing the “just mix this one into that one” idea, and it didn’t go over well. I’ve learned that the desk jockey likes one dish that can go in the microwave, and simply be eaten at the desk while typing away at emails.
- – It should be good hot or room temperature (like I mentioned before if you get called away to a meeting and come back to room temp lunch).
- – It shouldn’t be too soupy. Nothing worse than taking your lunch out of the bag and finding it has spilled all over. Besides the mess, then there’s nothing left to eat!
- – Don’t send red spaghetti sauce too often. This makes for a sloppy looking shirt if spilled!
- – Finger foods aren’t really welcome too often. Too much typing goes on while eating lunch.
And, while I’d rather he went outside and sat and ate a nice leisurely lunch while listening to the birds and properly thinking about how awesome his lunch is, I know that he eats at his desk far too often. And, he works while he eats. So, I try to make sure that I follow these rules most of the time.
One of the things I really like about this Pesto Pasta, besides the fact that it fits with all the Brown-Bagging it rules above, is that it doesn’t have pine nuts in it. See, sometimes, I just feel a bit on the cheap (or should I say frugal?) side, and pine nuts are one of those things that just seems so darn expensive. So, skip ’em!
The bright green of the basil will fade a little if you make this the day before. If that bothers you, the great thing about this dish is that it also makes a fabulous light dinner for the hot summer months! So, it’s all good!
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion or ½ large onion
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 6 ounces (or ½ box) penne
- ¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons water
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish if desired
- 2 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
- 1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans) or Great Northern Beans
- In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions, and cook until onions soften and caramelize, about 20-30 minutes, stirring often. If onions begin to cook too fast, or burn, add a small amount of water to the pan and continue to cook.
- While the onions cook, place the broccoli florets in a microwaveable bowl with 2 tablespoons water, and cover. Microwave on high 1 minute, or until broccoli is steamed but still crisp. Microwave times will vary. Drain and set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water. Drain, reserving ¼ cup pasta cooking water.
- Meanwhile, make pesto: In small food processor, pulse basil, garlic powder, water, 2 tablespoons oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper until pureed, stopping occasionally and scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Add Parmesan; pulse to combine. Set aside.
- Once the onions are done cooking, stir in red peppers and white beans, and cook 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Stir pesto, steamed broccoli, and reserved cooking water into pasta. Toss to coat. Taste for salt & pepper, and garnish with additional Parmesan and pepper if desired.