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Pasta, Peas, and Pesto

May 8, 2012
Wendy Monro , Simply Food

Whenever anybody in our family is feeling blue, Claud tells us we need to get more sunshine in our tummy. He knows that will fix us. When the kids were little, he would lift up their t-shirt and rub their belly pretending to be able to see that the sunshine was missing. To this day, if either one of my kids isn't feeling cheerful, he or she might say, "I don't feel the sunshine today." Then, we think of something we can do to add it back in.

You know that feeling when your insides heat up with bliss? It is difficult to describe but I am sure everyone has felt it. Sometimes, it hits me out of nowhere. I could be sitting in the park, listening to the kids play, reading a book, when a sense of peace rolls over my whole being and I feel it. Often times I experience it when a stranger returns a genuine smile. My insides heat up. Other times, it occurs under more obvious circumstances. I might be cooing at a new baby in the super market or watching Daphne sing a solo in choir. I especially feel it when my kids are doing something together and getting along. It could even happen when my husband walks through the door. When I see his face, I feel it again. It's happiness and peace all rolled into an instant. I love it. It just might be LOVE.

People can do things to make this feeling arise more often. Anything you do when you give completely without expecting anything in return can bring it on. Helping someone move from one house to the next is a huge way to gain sunshine. Maybe you hold the door open for someone and there it is. You might hug your child and not be the first to let go. It appears when you ask someone how his or her day went and don't interject while they answer. You may sing a song and dance while using your "dancing face". You know what I mean. Another way is to cook something amazing with passion. Think about how everything you put into the dish will nourish and please the people who eat it.

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Submitted photo
Pasta with pesto and peas

I try to do this every time I cook. Each ingredient, slice, saut, boil, or chop is given my full attention. I read once that food, which is treated well as it grows (like in your garden with love), will pass positive energy into the person eating it. So, I am so happy to be growing a new garden this year. I know Buddhists believe that if they choose their food carefully, it correlates with the amount of light entering the body and affects their inner power. Sounds like sunshine to me. I think Claud is on to something here.

A few days ago, I decided to make lunch for my family. It was a beautiful sunshiny day. I quietly walked away from the swimming pool and went inside to conjure up some sunshine food. As I walked past my garden, I knew that I wanted to use leaves from my basil plant. This plant was given to me by Nan, a neighbor, and it was the inspiration for starting my small vegetable garden. Also, I just bought a package of brown rice pasta I wanted to try out. Brown rice pasta is gluten free which is a benefit to a lot of people.

After putting the fresh basil and pasta into my mind, I looked through my refrigerator to come up with the rest. I saw peas, which were perfect for a springtime pasta dish. Peas and pasta reminded me of Pasta Carbonara. However, I didn't want that heavy, creamy sauce or the fatty bacon. So, I concocted a healthier version. I made a pesto and added in cashews to make it creamy. I recently learned that many Indian dishes incorporate cashews to make their food creamier. It really works. I don't think you will miss the bacon, cream or eggs when you taste the rich, delicious flavors wrapped into this pasta. I used pepitas instead of pine nuts in the pesto. Pepitas, which are small green pumpkin seeds, are more affordable and did the same trick. The brown rice pasta was perfect. It tasted like regular white flour pasta. The water was a bit thicker after boiling it, but other than that, I didn't notice any difference.

Fact Box

Pasta, Peas & Pesto

1 package brown rice pasta (or pasta of your choice), cooked al dente

1/2 cup pepitas (or pine nuts)

1 cup basil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup cashews

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

3 cups peas (fresh or frozen)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine the pepitas, basil, garlic, cashews, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Blend well. Heat the peas in a large pan. Add the pesto you just made. Stir in the cooked pasta. Salt and pepper to taste.

The Bramble

2 ounces Beefeaters Gin

1 ounce lemon juice

1 tablespoon cassis

1 teaspoon sugar

1 lemon slice

1 raspberry

crushed ice

In a cocktail shaker, pour in gin, lemon juice, cassis and sugar. Pour into a glass over crushed ice. Top with lemon slice and a raspberry.

Since it was a hot beautiful day, I decided to whip up an extra special treat for Claud and me. It is the perfect sunny day drink and has become Claud's favorite cocktail since our visit to London. It's fruity, tangy, cold, crisp and light. The Bramble was the perfect complement for my pasta peas and pesto. After lunch, we all felt pretty sunshiny.

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