I made this for dinner last night and I am so incredibly pleased with how it turned out. I modified the recipe from Rachael Ray’s look + cook book. The BLT stands for butter lettuce, leek and tomato and man was it delicious. This recipe is easily made gluten-free by using rice noodles or any other gluten-free pasta. I used white spaghetti because I was out of whole wheat but I suggest using whole wheat or spelt/rice pasta. This recipe can also easily be made vegan. I usually don’t eat dairy so for this recipe I only put the cheese in the sauce and opted out of cheese on top of my serving however you can leave the cheese out of the pesto sauce to make the recipe vegan.
- 1 pound spaghetti (I’d suggest about 1/3 of regular sized package)
- 2 heads butter lettuce
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (or slivered almonds)
- a handful of fresh parmesan cheese plus more for garnish if you’d like
- salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
- 4-5 leeks halved lengthwide and then thinly sliced into half-moons, washed and dried
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
First bring a large pot of water to boil, salt the water and cook the spaghetti to al dente. While the water is coming to a boil chop and reserve 1 head of the butter lettuce, then chop the second head and add to a food processor (alternatively you can use a blender) with the parsley, basil, mint, nuts, (optional cheese), lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.
Pulse-chop the greens, then turn on the processor and slowly stream in the 1/3 cup of olive oil to form a pesto. Transfer to a large bowl for later. Next, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat adding the garlic and the leeks. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until the leeks are wilted. Add the pint of grape tomatoes and stir, raising the heat slightly. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the tomatoes have burst, if some still need to pop you may press them with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Season with salt and pepper – add the white wine and cook for 1 minute.
When the pasta is almost al dente add a ladle of the starchy pasta water to the pesto and then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pesto in the bowl along with the tomatoes and leeks and toss, seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking. Finish off by squeezing the half lemon on top of the pasta and garnish with the reserved chopped lettuce and the optional extra parmesan.
I absolutely loved this dish and it was a big hit with my momma too! I definitely made too much pasta and had to reserve almost half of what I made for another time. In my version of this recipe I have doubled the pine nuts and the leeks. You may also choose to add garlic and some spinach to your pesto mix. What I love about cooking is it is so much less exact than baking. You taste, you adjust, you play! I am so not good at rules and specifics – much better at spontaneity and creativity. So get creative in the kitchen and try out this meatless BLT pasta, I promise you won’t regret it!
I absolutely love Rachael Ray’s cooking but she uses a lot of dairy and meat in her recipes. My most favourite recipe of hers is an artichoke and spinach macaroni and cheese which I am going to attempt to make vegan this week – stay tuned!
with love and pesto,