Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pasta with Herb Pesto and Zucchini Strands

My head is in so many places today I just don't even know where to begin. Everything is good right now there's just too much good going on. Lots of fun, inspiring freelance work and blog stuff (exciting things are in the works with Smart Eating for Kids). I've somehow volunteered myself to lead the charge on organizing our neighborhood's block party. Lilly's birthday party is next weekend (!!). We're trying (and pretty much failing thus far) to plan some summer vacations.

Lately I find myself stopping mid-sentence in an email to google something or check something or order something or print something or... something. Or fold laundry. Theres always the laundry. Looming. Ugh. And always, always trying to stop everything...all of the things...whenever Lilly is awake and in my care. To be present for and with Lilly. That should be the easiest, most natural thing because its the best thing. But sometimes its the hardest. To just...put the phone down. Stop working on the press release. Walk away from the google search. Don't photograph that plate of food. Just stop. I don't want it to be hard. I don't want my plate to be so full that she doesn't get the biggest part of it. But I don't want to give up all of the THINGS, either. And I don't even work fulltime! This is not a complaint post. I guess its just a little self-lecture to be better. To stretch further. Because she's almost TWO. She'll be TWO in thirteen days! And then, before I know it, she'll be thirteen and she won't want me to pay attention anymore. And I'll be kicking myself for squandering the seconds because of Facebook.

So, in an effort to be better and find more time I've been trying even more than usual to work on dinner while she naps. And thank goodness does she nap right now. And this recipe is the perfect naptime recipe. You blend the pesto and cut the zucchini into strands and stick it all in the fridge. Before dinner you boil a pot of water, drain and toss it all together. And its awesome. We had ours with Panko Crusted Chicken (of course) and it was so easy and Lilly stood on her chair to help.

The pesto is mostly parsley with just a bit of basil mixed in, so its got a really fresh, bright flavor that screams summer both in color and in taste. The zucchini, while not necessary for flavor, is a great way to add some extra veggie nutrition (especially for kiddos) because it just disappears into the dish. I used my zesting tool to cut it into long, thin strands but you could also use a mandoline or just cut it into long, thin matchsticks with a knife.

Lilly has been on a bit of a "no green, no veggies" kick lately, but she loved this. The recipe that provided inspiration was from this month's Bon Appetit, so I'd showed her a picture of the dish beforehand to explain what a pesto was. That got her excited and she gobbled it right up.  Happily ate leftovers for lunch today, too. A lunch we ate together, without any distractions.

Spaghetti with Herb Pesto

Serves 6

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
3 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
3/4 cup fresh chives
1 clove garlic
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 large or two small zucchini
1 lb. spaghetti
Kosher salt
Juice from half a lemon
Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Combine almonds, parsley, basil, chives, garlic and olive oil in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the container as needed. 
  2. Set pesto aside or, if using later, cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pesto and place in refrigerator (can be stored for up to 5 days).
  3. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and use a spoon to remove and discard seeds. Use a zesting tool or mandoline (or a knife) to cut the zucchini into long, thin strands. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. 
  5. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water before draining the pasta.
  6. To serve, combine the pasta, pesto and zucchini strands in pot, adding reserved cooking water by 1/4 cupfuls until the mixture reaches a saucy consistency. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. 


  1. Such a great statement about being present. I've been trying (and failing) at my multi-tasking lately and I think we'd all be happier if I made my to-do lists shorter and didn't put so much pressure on getting things accomplished during all hours of the day. Great reminder!

  2. This pasta looks like perfection! I'm trying to be more present, too, but it's definitely quite difficult... And I don't even have kids yet!


  3. yuuum i love pesto! looks tasty! xoxo jillian:: cornflake dreams


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