Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Baked Mushroom Penne with Spinach Pesto

Traditional basil pesto packs a lot of fresh herbal flavor, but pesto made with other good, green stuff is…well, just as good and just as green. Here, I used a combination of spinach and parsley, along with typical pesto ingredients—garlic, nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. No matter which herbs or greens you choose, pesto is still a simple, and simply delicious, no-cook sauce for pasta or whatever else you want to put it on.

For this recipe, I added mushrooms for a little meatiness and decided to bake the dish with some provolone on top (for a little extra cheesiness, mmmm).

Serves 4

  • olive oil, for oiling dish, plus 2 tbsp
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach leaves (or chopped larger leaves)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup small, broken walnut pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 6 oz mini penne
  • 6 thin slices provolone cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F and lightly oil an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
  2. Place the spinach, parsley, walnuts, and garlic in a food processor and season with salt and pepper. Grind until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. With the motor running, slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil. Scrape down the sides again and process until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Spinach Mixture Ready to Grind

Ground Spinach Mixture

Oil Added

Cheese Stirred In
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring several time, until softened and most of the liquid is absorbed, 7-8 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the pesto.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the penne in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente, 7-8 minutes. Drain and add to the bowl with the pesto and mushrooms. Stir well to combine.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and top evenly with the provolone slices, overlapping slightly as needed. Sprinkle with oregano. Bake uncovered until the provolone is melted and beginning to brown in spots, 20-25 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.

Mushrooms Beginning to Cook

Cooked Mushrooms

Combined Ingredients

Ready to Bake

Baked Pasta
Divide among 4 pasta bowls and serve right away.

Baked Mushroom Penne with Spinach Pesto

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