I think I found the secret to making Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals in about 30 min - get your husband (or whoever) to wash and prep everything while you make the dish. Seriously, this was the first time one of her "30 minute express lane" meals took well under an hour. Maybe it was about 40 min, but that was because we also had to clean some dishes in the sink first.
A few months back while browsing through Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals I came across this recipe for Three-Vegetable Penne with Tarragon-Basil Pesto. It just sounded so good I knew I needed to make it immediately! Of course I ended up eating it as soon as it was ready and not taking any pictures so I couldn't blog about it then, but when my husband and I were coming up with our menu for last week and knew that we wanted some good, considerably healthy summer meals my mind immediately went to this recipe. There's nothing too fancy about it so aside from the cleaning and cutting of the veggies and herbs, it's pretty simple to make.
What I also like about this meal is that it also doesn't make a mess. Yes, you have to clean the food processor (which is always so much fun) but I toss it all together in a large Pyrex bowl, then serve from that and when we're done eating I just pop the lid on the bowl and put it in the fridge. And this reheats well for an easy lunch or dinner later that week.
Three-Vegetable Penne with Tarragon-Basil Pesto (recipe by Rachael Ray)
1 lb penne rigate pasta
1/2 lb asparagus, rough ends trimmed
1 small zucchini
1/4 lb haricot verts or regular green beans, end trimmed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
1/2 cup fresh tarragon, leaves stripped for 10 to 12 stems
handful of fresh parsley
zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup grated parmesan
coarse black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water, add pasta and cook to al dente; it should still have a bite to it.
- Cut the asparagus spears on an angle into 2-inch pieces. Cut the zucchini into matchsticks. Cut the haricot verts or green beans on an angle into 2-inch pieces.
- When the pasta has been cooking for about 5 minutes, add the vegetables to the pot. Boil the veggies and pasta together for 2 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet until golden, then cool.
- Place the nuts, basil, tarragon, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, parmesan, and a little salt and pepper in the food processor. Turn the processor on and stream in the olive oil until a thick sauce forms.
- scrape the pesto into a large, shallow serving dish or serving bowl. Add a ladle of hot, starchy pasta water to the pesto.
- Drain the penne and veggies and immediately add them to the pesto. Toss to coat the pasta and vegetables evenly. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.