The number of blogs I follow continues to grow: I'm at 152, as of the writing of this sentence. (At this rate, it could change by the time I actually get to the bottom of the post.) Of those 152 blogs, 32 fall under my "Cooking and Food" category. I've printed off dozens of recipes that I want to try, and tonight I gave one of them a go: Purple Pesto Pasta. When I found it through a link on another blog (it's been long enough that I don't even remember which blog), I was so intrigued that I had to try it.
The ingredients are simple, and the prep and cooking time are, too: red cabbage, olive oil, garlic, sunflower seeds, salt, and pasta. That's it. A perfect weeknight post-work meal.
Here's the recipe:
Purple pesto pasta (Red cabbage pesto)
You will need
1/4 head red cabbage, chopped coarsely
Several tablespoons olive oil (it will depend on how large your cabbage is)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
1 cup whole wheat penne (other pastas would work just fine)
Pulse cabbage, garlic, sunflower seeds and a few pinches of salt in food processor (it might work in blender, too–let me know if you try it).
Add olive oil in a thin stream through the food processor tube while pulsing, until the mixture forms a paste. (Because of cabbage’s texture, this will never reach the same pastiness of a basil pesto–as soon as it starts sticking together, you’re good.) Taste for salt, and add more if necessary.
Put a pot of water to boil. Cook penne in boiling water for 7 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving a bit of pasta water. Toss several spoonfuls of the purple pesto and pasta water with pasta in the still-warm pot. Top with toasted sunflower seeds (I also added some baby asparagus I had around, steamed).
Found on The Yellow House.
My first challenge was a common one: adjust the recipe to serve one. I wasn't exactly sure how many servings this was supposed to make -- 2? 4? 6? 18? -- so that's where the guessing game began. My head of red cabbage was monstrous, so I cut off a chunk about 1" in thickness, 7" in diameter.
I love garlic, so I wasn't afraid to have its flavor be a little on the strong side, so I used one average-sized clove.
I tossed that in the food processor with a tablespoon of raw sunflower seeds and a couple small pinches of kosher salt, pulsed it a few times, then slowly drizzled in about 1.5 Tablespoons of olive oil while I pulsed it some more.
I tasted a spoonful of the purple pesto and was immediately hit by the strong garlic flavor -- but I was cool with it.
Did I mention that I hadn't looked at this recipe in a while? Yeah, well, I decided to be very generous with the amount of purple pesto on my pasta, since I couldn't remember the author's photo (and I was feeling pretty excited about my new dinner). Pesto, in general, is a fairly new experience for me. In my mind, this was more like a warm-salad-on-pasta dish than a pesto sauce.
Top it off with some sunflower seeds, and voila! A very colorful dinner.
So, how did it turn out in the end?
I consider it both a success and a failure.
I ate about 1/3 of it and had to stop. The garlic killed me. At first, it was fine, but the more I ate, the stronger it felt, and I started to think that if I kept going, I'd end up sick.
The idea itself, and the original recipe, were a success, and I'd definitely be up for trying it again. The failure was my own doing. Next time I'll drastically reduce the cabbage-to-pasta ratio, which will help spread the garlic love, and I'll also use less garlic for that amount of cabbage.
At least I won't have to worry about evil vampires visiting tonight.
Let me know if you give this a try!
Update 4/30/11: I made this again for dinner last night, determined to get it right. I used about the same amount of cabbage, a smaller clove of garlic, and everything else the same. But I only mixed a couple spoonfuls of the purple pesto into my pasta, and it was much better! And now I have more to enjoy over the next couple days. Success!