this is one of my favorite standby meals. it's pretty easy, very flavorful, and can be made as light or as rich as you feel appropriate. enjoy : )
1/4 cup pine nuts (if you don't have pine nuts, walnuts are a good substitute)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups basil leaves, packed
1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
place the pine nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. process until well minced. add the basil leaves, cheese, salt, and pepper. with the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto a desirable consistency. storing the pesto with a thin film of olive oil on top will lengthen its shelf life, but none of the pesto i've ever made has been around long enough for me to consider optimal preservation methods...
*make sure to use the best possible olive oil. selecting a variety that is first cold pressed will ensure that the flavor of the pesto is the best it can be.
for the pasta:
bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt to the pot and 1 pound of pasta (i used fettuccine, but linguini or spaghetti would also work well). cook until al dente (apx 8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally, drain and set aside until veggies are ready.
for the veggies:
2 medium/large zucchini, cut in half then into roughly 1/4 inch semi circles
roughly 30 stalks of asparagus (mine were pretty skinny), trimmed of ends and cut into 1 inch pieces
6 smallish or 3-4 large-ish carrots, cut into roughly 1/4 inch disks
over medium-high heat saute the veggies in a large nonstick skillet, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. once they have browned and are tender, about 15-20 minutes, add 1/2 cup pesto, and saute 1-2 minutes more. remove from heat and add to pasta, season to taste with salt and pepper. for a creamier texture, mix in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
note: it is not necessary to add oil or any other initial fat while sauteing, the vegetables will still develop a nice brown color.