I confess that I’ve never made pesto.  I know, I know, that makes me a bad person or at least a bad foodie, but I have a somewhat good excuse: I’m allergic to nuts.  I’ve always felt pesto just wasn’t pesto without pine nuts and figured I’d never be able to eat it, until I saw a thread on Serious Eats about pine nut substitutions in pestos.  There were many suggestions ranging from good-sounding (sunflower seeds, pepitas) to the bizarre (cooked quinoa- really?).  I kept these ideas in the back of my head, and recently there was a recipe posted on Serious Eats for a corn pesto that consisted of corn, cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts.  The recipe sounded like a good opportunity to use up some end-of-the season corn, as well as to try out a pine nut substitution.  Plus, there’s bacon in the sauce!  Cha-ching!

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I recently celebrated my birthday, and that can only mean one thing: I’m in desperate need of lots and lots of vegetables to counteract the chocolate cake and ice cream I’ve had every day for the past week.  Eek!  Luckily I came across this recipe from Rachael Ray, which has tomatoes, peas, and asparagus to make me feel healthy, but still loads of pasta and three kinds of cheese to make it edible.  The flavors are subtle but the whole dish is very light and spring-like, which I am in such need of after eating heavy meals all winter.  This would be a great dish to entertain with since it makes a whole 9×13 casserole, or if you live by yourself like me you can have leftovers for a week and still freeze some!

I made garlic bread to go along with this meal.  This is one of my favorite tricks: buy a regular baguette from the store and slather it up with your own garlic butter.  For mine, I use half a stick of softened butter, 3-4 cloves garlic, and a few tablespoons of fresh basil.  Mix the ingredients together, spread it on the baguette sliced in half lengthwise, cover in foil, and put in the oven for the last 5-6 minutes that the casserole is baking.  Delectable! (more…)