Linguine and Spinach Pesto

Pesto and pasta are a natural. Nothing flavors a good pasta dish than a dollop of pesto. And when it comes to pesto and pasta, nothing beats fresh.

Recently, Therese and I were talking to a friend who told us about making fresh pasta. He said there was there is no comparison between fresh and store-bought pasta.

The same can be said of fresh pesto. I can attest to that firsthand. At the end of each summer, I make fresh pasta from the basil that we’ve grown in our garden. Combined with Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil, the basil makes a rich pesto.

I’ve yet to make any pesto from this year’s crop but hope to do so soon. A new recipe I would like to try follows. The pesto also contains another favorite of mine, spinach. Here, it’s put over cooked linguine — or your favorite pasta — and topped with feta cheese. It sounds delicious.

Linguine and Spinach Pesto
1 pound spaghetti, linguine (or your favorite pasta shape), uncooked (see note)
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed, well drained
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons margarine (or butter)
1/3 cup water
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
In a blender (or food processor), combine spinach, oil, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and basil. Mix at medium speed until finely chopped. Melt margarine in water. With blender or processor running, gradually pour in melted margarine mixture until blended. Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. Toss pesto with pasta. Sprinkle feta on top and serve.
Note: Whole-grain, multigrain or whole-wheat pasta varieties may be substituted.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 325 calories, 11grams fat (3 grams saturated), 45 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 1 gram dietary fiber, 420 milligrams sodium.

Clammering for Clams

There’s nothing like a bowl of good clam chowder. My first taste of one was at Whitey’s in the mid-1970s, when I moved here to take a job with the newspaper. I think it was served on Fridays.

It was then that I developed an affinity for clams. I’d never really eaten them before but now do when the opportunity arises.

I particularily like pastas with clam sauce. Recently, Therese and I shared a dish of linguine with clam sauce at Mamma Maria’s in East Grand Forks. We also ordered an antipasta appetizer to go along with the entree, which allowed us to take some home for lunch the next day.

The antipasta was pretty good, although maybe a little heavy on the vinegar. However, the linguine with clam sauce was outstanding. It contained a generous amount of clams, which were not overcooked.

I’m thinking of making my own clam-pasta dish soon, perhaps to serve to some guests. Here is what I’ve decided to make.

White Clam Spaghetti Sauce
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled, finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 6-ounce can chopped clams, undrained
¼ cup warm water
¼ cup chopped parsley, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
6 ounces spaghetti or linguine, cooked al dente according to package directions
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
In a skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 to 1½ minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside for about 2 minutes. Add the clams with their juices and the water. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the parsley, salt, oregano and black pepper. Continue cooking to heat the sauce.
Drain the spaghetti and place portions in individual pasta bowls. Pour the sauce over it and toss to lightly coat. Rearrange the clams to set atop the spaghetti and serve. Offer the Parmesan cheese on the side, if desired.
Yield: Serves 2 (generous main-dish portions).
Cook’s note: The recipe may be doubled or even tripled to serve more. Add garlic and parsley to your own taste.