The new An Honest Kitchen + a Pesto Pasta Makeover
Last week Lucy and I released Issue 6 of An Honest Kitchen, our Makeovers edition. The idea for Makeovers actually came from one of our readers, who wanted us to give the An Honest Kitchen treatment to some of the most popular meals around. And it’s an idea we both loved.
In Makeovers we’ve revamped the traditional family roast, pasta, fish and chips, egg based meals and even tacos and nachos. Our versions of each are healthier, contain a lot more vegetables and fewer kilojoules, and they’re also delicious. During the recipe writing stage we also uncovered all sorts of clever ways to make the cooking easier and more suited to modern families and modern lifestyles.
Some lovely people have also been generous enough to lend us their blogs for the day, to share what we do and our makeover ideas with new people. You can read more about Makeovers and see some of our recipes thanks to: Amanda, Charlotte, Elaine, Jules, Liz, Shauna and Julia, Sophie and Wendy.
Before I get into the recipe, for those of you on Facebook, I’ve recently set up a Facebook page. Like my page and you can keep updated on Limes and Lycopene. I’ll also be posting links to recipes and articles I’ve spotted and updating you on what I’ve been cooking.
Pesto Pasta: A Makeover
This recipe isn’t in Makeovers, but it’s something I’ve been cooking a lot just recently and I’ve used many of the strategies we developed for Issue 6 in my version. For various reasons I’ve been feeling like cooking and eating plainer food recently and pasta seems to suit my food mood. I have a lot of pesto in the freezer at the moment, so pesto pasta has seemed like a good idea.
I cook the cauliflower in a steamer basket, over the pasta. While you could boil the cauli in with the pasta, I like the control this steaming method gives me. It means I can remove the steamer when the cauliflower is ready, rather than waiting for the pasta. If you don’t have a steamer basket, don’t despair.
For my Pesto Pasta Makeover;
- I’ve significantly increased the vegetable by cooking cauliflower, along with the pasta. The colour and texture of cauliflower seems to go well with the pasta.
- Given I’ve added cauliflower, I’ve been able to make a filling meal while reducing the amount of pasta I use, which in turn significantly reduces the kilojoules in the meal.
- By cooking red lentils in with the pasta I’ve increased the variety of nutrients in the meal, while also upping the protein. This is a trick I learnt from Emma Carder and it works really well. The red lentils take the same amount of time as the pasta and they practically disappear into the final meal.
- I use my own home made pesto – I have batches of this in the freezer, so it’s ready to go when I want some instant flavour. Unlike many of the pestos at the supermarket, which use unspecified “vegetable” oils and lots of vinegar, I know my pesto is made with good quality ingredients and has stacks of flavour.
1/4 head cauliflower (bout 220 – 250g)
1 tablespoon red lentils
2 tablespoons pesto
Put a pan of water on to boil while you prep the cauliflower.
Prep the cauliflower: Cut the cauliflower up into small-ish pieces. I’m never overly careful about this, but I do like the pieces of cauli to be quite small, so they’re soft and blend in with the pasta. Place in a steamer basket.
Cook the pasta, lentils and cauliflower: Once the pan of water has come to the boil, add the pasta and lentils. Place the steamer basket over the pasta (if you’re cooking spaghetti you’ll have to wait until the pasta has softened enough to drop down into the water). You may need to turn the heat down under the water so it doesn’t boil over. After a couple of minutes remove the steamer and give the pasta a quick stir, to make sure it’s not sticking. Replace the steamer basket.
Check the cauliflower: After about 7 minutes check the cauliflower. If it’s cooked through and soft then remove the steamer basket and place to one side. Keept this covered to retain the heat. Continue cooking the pasta until al dente.
To finish: Drain the pasta and lentils through the cauliflower steamer basket. This both saves on washing up and reheats the cooling cauliflower. Return the pasta, lentils and cauliflower to the pan and add the pesto. Toss to combine and serve immediately.