End of season pesto


I’m warming back up to Italian food. For awhile, nothing compared to the food I had in Florence, so I shied away from trying to perfect Italian at home. Luckily, J loves Italian style cuisine so we’ve dabbled in a few dishes (like Pizza Margherita and Eggplant Parmesan). We had a bumper crop of basil that needed to be used, so before the first freeze, (ok the second!), we harvested an armful and got to work making pesto. I found this recipe, but had to modify it a bit for our taste.

Ingredients:
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan (grated works best)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Add all the ingredients to your food processor (except the salt and pepper) and pulse it a few times. Taste. Add desired salt and pepper. Pulse again. We added the oil a little bit at a time, which left the pesto a little chunky, which we like. If you don’t, add the ingredients except the oil first, pulse, then add the oil slowly, pulsing in between. When it’s the consistency you prefer, pour into a clean mason jar, add a little olive oil on top, screw on the lid and freeze. Serve over your favorite pasta.

My opinion:
I was a bit surprised at how little this actually made. We only got two jars our of an armful of basil. Next year, I plan to make some early in the summer and then again at the end of the season so I end up with more pesto.

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Easy Baked Manicotti

J made this recipe from Kraft for dinner earlier this week. We were surprised at the flavor and how filling it was!

Ingredients:
2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1-3/4 cups Ricotta Cheese (we used part skim)
1-1/2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup pesto (we used store-bought in a jar)
12 manicotti shells, cooked, rinsed in cold water

Directions:
Spread 3/4 cup sauce onto bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish. Mix cheeses, egg and pesto until well blended; spoon into resealable plastic bag. Use scissors to cut small corner from bottom of bag. Fill manicotti shells by squeezing cheese mixture into both sides of each shell; place in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce; cover (we used tin foil). Bake 40 min. or until heated through.

My Opinion:
This dish was flavorful and delicious. We actually used a whole jar of pasta sauce because we like the sauce and two cups seemed so little. J had some trouble filling the manicotti and said he broke a few, but if he hadn’t said anything I would never have noticed. Super easy weeknight meal. We ended up freezing half of the manicotti for an even faster weeknight meal in the future.

Recipe originally from Kraft.