Pesto Pasta

For Christmas, I got this cookbook:
It’s called Food Network Favorites.  I hope to tackle all the recipes in this one… there is a great variety and level of difficulty throughout the book.  Yummy!
One of the pages I flagged to make sooner than later was this one:
Bow Ties with Pesto, Feta, and Cherry Tomatoes.  Shall we try it? ... Ok!
Here is what you need:
Note: The recipe doesn’t call for meat, but we are a meat-eatin’ family and I wanted to make this one an entrée.  When I first started cooking this, I thought, shrimp for me, chicken for the hubby (he hates anything fish-y, really.  Then I remembered I had this in the refrigerator:
Let us start with making the pesto... Here is what you need for the pesto:
Throw all of your ingredients into a food processor (or blender or magic bullet), and blend it up really good. 
It should look something like this:
Add a little more oil: 
And blend some more.

Get your tomatoes and rinse them.
Note: The recipe called for cherry tomatoes.  The grocery store only had grape tomatoes, so that's what I used.  They're still tasty!
Cut them in half.
Now get your salted water to a boil…
And add your pasta!
Take your peeled and cleaned shrimp:

And throw them in your pan with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Turn ‘em over…
And let them cook until pink.

Note: You can also use chicken here… use the same steps as the shrimp, just use chicken.  Or don’t use either!  I’ll show you what to do with the prosciutto if you keep reading…
After the pasta is cooked and drained, throw it into your serving bowl.
Toss some pesto on top…
And toss the pasta around until it is coated.
Throw your tomatoes and feta (or in my case, goat cheese)…
And toss it around some more.
You can serve it plain:
Or with a little prosciutto:

Note: No need to cook the prosciutto.  Just drape it on top and enjoy!
Or shrimp!

This was fabulous.  It can be served hot or cold, meat or no meat.  It’s just plain GOOD!

Here is the recipe:
Bow Ties with Pesto, Feta, and Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from the Food Network Favorites Cookbook
1 lb bow tie pasta (farfalle) – you can use any kind of pasta with this one, really… but I’m sure farfalle works best
Chicken breast, shrimp, or prosciutto, as desired
¾ cup pesto (see recipe below)
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I used grape and that worked great too)
1 cup crumbled feta (I used goat cheese and that was fabulous as well)
Garlic powder, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil, as needed
Yield: 4-6 servings
1.       Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Stir in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. 
2.       In a pre-heated pan (medium heat), toss in your chicken or shrimp (if you’re doing the pasta with prosciutto, skip this step).  Season with salt, a dab of garlic powder, and pepper.  Cook until browned on both sides.
3.       When the pasta is done cooking, drain and run it under cold water until it stops steaming.  Bounce the pasta around to get rid of as much water as you can.  NOTE: Doing this will cool the pasta down and it will create a pasta-salad type dish.  If you want the pasta to be served hot, just rinse quickly and keep it warm.
4.       Dump the pasta into a large serving bowl.  Stir in the Pesto until the pasta is coated.  Toss in the tomatoes and crumbled feta.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.  You can make the salad up to 1 hour before you serve it (if you are serving it cold, unless you want to microwave it and heat it up).  If you make it ahead, check the pasta before serving.  If it’s a looking a little dry, add some olive oil and stir it around. Top with your prosciutto, or cooked chicken or shrimp.

5 handfuls basil leaves (about 2 hefty bunches)
½ cup pine nuts or ¾ walnuts
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Kosher salt
About 20 grinds of freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Yield: 1 ½ cups
Directions: Place all ingredients with ½ cup of the oil in a blender, food processor, or magic bullet and blend.  Gradually add the remainder of the oil until the pesto is thick and smooth.
Tip: Leftover pesto?  Great! Put it in an airtight freezer-safe container and pour a thin layer of olive oil on top.  Press a layer of plastic wrap right onto the oil.  Close the lid, and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.  Toss with hot cooked pasta and serve as an entrée when you’re pressed for time, or spread on crostini as an appetizer.