Sundried Tomato and Pesto Pasta


gluten-free vegan pesto pasta 2

Guys, summer’s over, and my tomatoes are stubbornly refusing to ripen. I have two giant cherry tomato plants in my garden, one of the Sweet 100s variety and one pear-shaped yellow one. While they have just started to poke out their little green tomato fruits, they are stubbornly refusing to yield the sweet, ripe little flavor bombs I know must be coming. I’ve been waiting all summer to collect giant handfuls, quarter them, and throw them into some pasta with an amazing homemade pesto.

It’s times like these when I turn to sundried tomatoes packed in oil. Speaking of flavor bombs, these suckers add a burst of summer to any dish. I mostly use them in the winter, when I can’t find good cherry tomatoes anywhere, but it turns out they’re also good for assuaging tomato-induced frustration.

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Multi-green Pesto (gluten-free, paleo and vegan option)

gluten-free vegan paleo green pesto 1

Pretty much all I want to eat these days is a giant bowl of salad with a slice of bread. It’s summertime, work is busy, and I’ve been forbidden from turning on the oven, so that’s also the simplest solution.

But I also want some interesting flavors, you know? Which is why this pesto is so enjoyable. Guess what? It doesn’t have basil in it, just a bunch of powerhouse greens and some yummy, nutty-tasting flax. There’s not much to say about it, except that it’s inspired by this recipe by Cookie and Kate and it’s perfect with anything — spread on bread, used with sort of a bruschetta, spread on pizza crust in lieu of sauce or simply thinned and tossed into pasta. Or zucchini! Your call.

As you  can see above, I went the simple route.

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Beet Salad with Parsley Pesto (gluten-free, meatless)

beet salad gluten free

This weekend, I spent a lot of time preparing to garden. You see, up until late last week, our area was still under a frost warning. As a result, I’d been putting off the actual planting and had somehow come up with a dream garden that was far beyond the capacity of any of my current beds (most of which, sadly, are in shade).

So, I built a raised garden bed that I hope our landlord won’t notice and installed a cold frame along the side of the house and started to dream about what I’d fill them with. The raised bed is at the side of our yard, ideally positioned to catch the maximum amount of sunlight possible. As soon as I can find someplace that will sell me a truckload of soil, I am filling that baby up with tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and bell peppers.

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Chicken Pesto Mushroom Bites (gluten-free, paleo option)

gluten-free pesto mushroom chicken bites

Seeing people I know from work in other contexts is always so much fun. A co-worker of mine is expecting a baby next month, and I was lucky enough to attend her baby shower last weekend. Over wine, appetizers, and the most delicious mini cheesecakes in Idaho, ten of us laughed, talked, and listened, horrified, to the birth stories the others were sharing with us.

Suffice to say, I am adding to the list of reasons I’m not ready to have children. But I also realized as a result of this shower that I don’t have a single good appetizer recipe that can accommodate a number of dietary restrictions. Hummus is fine, but it needs to go with pita, which is not gluten-free; the mother-to-be doesn’t eat red meat, so my bacon-wrapped dates were out. I debated vegan jalapeno poppers, but that seemed just a little too strange, and more something to spring on my unsuspecting fiance next weekend than something that needed to be good because I was feeding it to other people.

Then, I came up with these mushrooms.

I was inspired by this recipe by Juli Bauer at PaleOMG, but modified it so heavily that pretty much the only thing the two recipes have in common are the mushrooms and the Italian inspiration. You make a very basic sundried tomato pesto, tuck it into mushroom caps, top it with pesto-infused chicken and cheese, and bake.

So simple, and so delicious — and totally reliable, provided everyone at your party eats chicken. If you’re paleo, make your own cheese-less pesto (as opposed to using store bought), and leave out the rest of the cheese.

Chicken Mushroom Pesto Bites

For the sundried tomato pesto
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto (homemade or jarred)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • heavy pinch of salt
For the mushrooms
  • 30 white or cremini mushrooms
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 Tbsp pesto (homemade or jarred)
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add basil pesto, sundried tomatoes, garlic and salt to a mini food processor or chopper and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Place on a dish towel to drain, then place in a baking dish.
  4. Combine chicken with pesto and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Take sundried tomato pesto and place a generous dab in the bottom of each mushroom cap. Add a heaping teaspoon of the chicken-pesto, then top with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender, chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted and a little brown. Serve immediately.

Pistachio Pesto

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You need to go and make this pesto right now. I am not kidding you. Go, make it, shed a tear for how incredible it is, and immediately start devising ways in which to use it. Because it’s just. That. Good.

I made this recipe from Juli Bauer over at PaleOMG last week — one of her signature faux-pasta dishes with chicken and spaghetti squash. When I stumbled on this recipe, I kind of wondered about the wisdom of making pesto with pistachios. No cheese? More nuts? Not pine nuts? Crazy.

But because I had purchased three pounds of pistachios at Costco, this was the perfect recipe to make for dinner. And it was absolutely, positively, worth the risk. The saltiness and the fat in the nuts more than makes up for the missing cheese, and adds a subtle creaminess I didn’t expect at all. Lest it be too rich, the lemon shines through, keeping the dish from getting too heavy.

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