Dr. Travis Stork's Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Asparagus, and Cherry Tomatoes

by Rachael Ray Show Staff 3:00 AM, April 13, 2012

Aired April 13, 2012

Serves 6
For the Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves (from about 2 bunches)
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan plus additional for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Sardo or Parmesan
1 teaspoon sea salt
For the Pasta:
12 ounces whole wheat pasta (such as penne or farfalle)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch asparagus (about 14 ounces), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces or 1 10-ounce package frozen green peas, thawed
1 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups baby spinach or arugula
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces (optional)

Make pesto: Combine basil, pine nuts, oil and garlic in a food processor. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Add cheeses and sea salt. Blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. (Makes about 2/3 cup. Can be made 1 day ahead. Top with 1/4 inch olive oil and chill.)

Prepare pasta: Cook pasta per package directions. Drain and return to pot.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat while pasta cooks. Add asparagus and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cook 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until asparagus are tender 2-3 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Add pesto, spinach, and chicken (if using) to pasta and toss until well-combined. Sprinkle with grated or shaved Parmesan. Serve warm, or chill and serve cold.

NUTRITION (per serving; without chicken) 370 cal, 11 g pro, 48 g carb, 7 g fiber, 15.5 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 209 mg sodium