Friday, May 11, 2012

Spinach and Avocado Pesto

Green is so much more than a color in the modern vernacular.

Sometimes I wish that wasn't the case, because as a color, green is one of my favorites, and I miss the simplicity of life without multiple cultural meanings behind practically everything.

I'll be candid, I don't like to think too much about food. Are you the same way? Someone says the name Michael Pollan and my fingers head for my ears. (It's involuntary, I swear!) And I love TED talks, but I rarely like to listen to the ones about food. I like what I eat. I don't want to change. I don't want you to tell me what is wrong with what I'm eating. I don't want to hear the word organic (especially until we all come to a consensus on what, precisely, that means). I don't want you to dictate to me how close to my house my food should have been grown. Essentially, I don't need an extra helping of guilt with my meals.

After forcing myself into listening to a bunch of TED talks on the matter, I do, however, feel that I need to rethink what I eat to a certain extent. I'm not really a "food philosophy" kind of person, and therefore have no interest in declaring allegiance to any food "movement".
I would rather not eat pesticides, so I can get on board with organic produce to that end, but I'm not about to be obsessive about it. I agree that cattle contribute to global warming, so I eat less beef than I used to. I eat less meat, period. I would rather not eat "pink slime", so I'm being more careful about the quality of beef that makes it to my table when we do eat beef. I love to eat locally, but that's easy to do in Oregon or California -- less simple back home in Utah,  or other places where the growing season is shorter and more volatile or intense.

My problem with many of the ideas that are out there is that they are answers for we elite few who have the luxury of worrying about what kind and quality of food ends up on the table instead of if there will be food at all. And while it's great to be mindful about what we do for ourselves, it's only a small part of the equation in my book.

But I certainly don't have the answers, and I admire those who are working out a vision for making the world a better, and better fed, place to live -- no, thrive.

If, like me, you are plugging your ears and singing "la la la can't hear you!" when you encounter these kinds of food debates, I encourage you to take a breath and listen to some of the ideas out there. Decide where you stand -- or at least decide what you won't stand for any longer -- and make a few changes or get involved in whatever way your conscience dictates. My only specific recommendation is moderation. It's the safest bet in almost every situation.

Here are a couple of my favorites to get you started:

[Steps down from soapbox]
Now, on to the main event...
Delightful, fresh, summery, free of oils of any kind; This is what I offer you, in pesto form. (Is there a more delicious form to take than pesto? I submit that there is NOT!) As a bonus, this dish is delectably green. How "green" you wish to make it will depend upon how you choose to source your ingredients, about which I promise to pass no judgement.

I literally crave this pesto.

You probably will, too.

And considering how many healthful ingredients are on the list, I think you can safely step away from that side of guilt we were talking about earlier.


Spinach & Avocado Pesto
adapted from Giada DeLaurentis via Food Network

1 lb. long ribbon pasta, such as fettucine, papardelle, linguine, etc.
2 ripe, medium avocados
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (1 lemon) or lime juice (about 2 very juicy limes, maybe 3)
1 c. lightly packed basil
3 c. lightly packed baby spinach
1/2 c. skinned, toasted almonds
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 c. grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
grape tomatoes (optional)
cooked chicken, shredded or cubed (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions in well salted water, reserving some (a cup or so) of the pasta water before draining.
While the pasta is cooking, get out your food processor and load it up with the avocado, lemon/lime juice, basil, spinach, almonds, and garlic. Pulse until quite smooth, then add parmesan, and process again. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit your taste.
In a large bowl, toss pasta with pesto to coat, adding reserved pasta cooking water as desired to thin the pesto to the right consistency. (I usually end up using about 1/4 c. pasta water, but sometimes it takes a bit more.)
Distribute among plates or bowls, adding tomatoes and chicken if you wish.
Can be served warm or at room temperature, making it great for picnics, potlucks, or traveling.

Baby Bryce Approved!

1 comment :

Thanks for your comment. Let's keep things friendly!