Monday, April 25, 2011

New recipe: Purple Pesto Pasta

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
Kosher salt
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.

Next question: by how much should I reduce the garlic? 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.
It was beautiful! It looked perfect, just as the directions described. Meanwhile, I cooked 1 cup of whole-wheat pasta.

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!

1 comment:

  1. What I've learned about garlic is that the smaller you're going to chop it, the less you need. In the case of pesto where it'll be pretty much pureed, a single clove is enough for this sort of recipe. That said, I've found that heating the pesto slightly after mixing it with pasta helps tone down the sharpness of the garlic so you get more of that mellow garlicy flavor. I've got 2 heads of red cabbage to use up, so I'm going to try a roasted version - will drizzle a bit of olive oil on the cabbage and several cloves of garlic and roast just long enough to bring out the sweetness of the garlic - that will let me use several cloves without overpowering things. A squeeze of lemon j(or lime?) juice will probably help brighten things up a bit too.