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Artichoke Pesto Pizza

As a parent, I have to find a balance of serving foods I like (grown-up foods) and foods I know my daughter will eat.  Serving grown-up foods is essential, as she won’t learn to like them without being exposed.  But I do want her to actually eat dinner.

I have found pizza is good ground for testing grown-up flavors.  Kids love simple pizzas, such as cheese or pepperoni.  While I’m not opposed to those, I prefer something a little more interesting.  The white sauce pizza I shared last week goes over well with kids, as does this.  I was honestly shocked when I saw my little girl downing the pesto, but she loved it.  The artichokes can be a little much for some young palates.  You may want to try just a pesto sauce with regular mozzarella cheese first, and then gradually diversify the toppings.

This is my favorite pizza to make.  Delicious and very simple, you can’t beat it.  Enjoy!

Artichoke Pesto Pizza (serves 3-4)

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1 pizza crust (½ batch of homemade dough
1 ⅓ cups fresh spinach
⅔ cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup parmesan cheese
3 ounces walnuts
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons low sodium broth or water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (13.75 ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well or about 9 ounces of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
3 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Par-bake pizza crust if using this recipe.

2. In a food processor, combine spinach, basil, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, walnuts, red pepper, and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. While processor is running, add broth/water, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add more broth, water, or oil if needed to make a paste-like sauce.

3. If necessary, chop artichoke hearts into at least quarters.

4. Spread pesto over pizza crust. Top with artichoke hearts, feta, and 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese.

5. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, until crust is browned. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 457
Protein: 16g
Fat: 38 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 59 mg
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 461 mg

Recipe Notes: I like this pesto recipe, but you can use your favorite recipe or jarred pesto. It all works. Just be careful to not spread it on too thick.  Also, it is important to par-bake the crust for this pizza, as the oil from the pesto can seep into raw dough, making it stick to the pan.  Please note that the picture is of a half pizza, but has a full can of artichokes on it. This many artichokes actually makes it hard to eat. Don’t worry if your pizza doesn’t look full of toppings. All of these toppings have strong flavors, so you don’t need as much to pack a good punch. Some chopped chicken also is good on this pizza.

Source: Pesto from Cooking Light, toppings inspired by Christian’s Pizza in Charlottesville, VA

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Antipasto Pasta

My eating mood goes in phases.  Lately, I’m in a carb mood.  Especially carbs that don’t require me to turn on my oven.  I’m also in the mood for dinners that are quick and easy, since my daughter has recently decided she needs to be held constantly about the time to cook dinner.

This pasta fit those criteria PLUS is what I would order at a restaurant – pesto sauce, tangy veggies, and cheese.  Even better though, because it cost me so much less to just make it at home. I usually order this type of dish because it is full of ingredients my husband isn’t a fan of eating. But even he enjoyed this pasta.

While we enjoyed this warm as a main course, it would also be delicious chilled as a side dish.  Enjoy!

Antipasto Pasta (Serves 4-6 as a main course)

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2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 medium red bell pepper
8 ounces whole wheat rotini pasta (or any short pasta)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/3 cup pesto
4 ounces provolone cheese, cubed
1/2 (7 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

1. Rub 1 teaspoon of oil around the outside of bell pepper. Broil or grill until outside is charred, turning occasionally. Remove from heat and place in a paper bag for 5 minutes. Remove from bag. Remove skin, seeds, and membranes. Chop remaining pepper and place in a large bowl.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

3. Meanwhile, toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat (use a large skillet). When warmed and beginning to be fragrant, remove from heat. Add to bowl with pepper.

4. In same skillet, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until beginning to brown slightly. Lower heat to medium-low, and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until well caramelized and soft. Add to bowl.

5. Squeeze thawed spinach between paper towels to remove moisture. Cook briefly in skillet to evaporate any remaining moisture, if needed. Add to bowl, along with pesto, provolone, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

6. Drain cooked pasta. Add warm pasta to bowl of ingredients, and toss to combine. Serve with remaining parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving with 6 servings)

Calories: 423
Protein: 19 g
Fat: 23 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 23 mg
Carbohydrates: 41 g
Fiber: 8.5 g
Sodium: 520 mg

Recipe Notes: The original recipe included kalamata olives. I think that would be a delicious addition, but I excluded them due to family preferences. You could substitute canned roasted red peppers to skip roasting your own.  Make sure you really get the water out of the frozen spinach. If you wanted to use fresh spinach, you could quickly wilt that in the warm skillet instead. I cheated and used a jarred pesto sauce. Making a homemade sauce would be great, but isn’t necessary. I used deli slices of provolone that I then “cubed”. I really liked this, since it made the pieces small enough to distribute more throughout the pasta.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

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