Pesto is great on anything! You can use it as a delicious coating for broiled fish, add it to any stuffing for meat or poultry, as a condiment for a sandwich, or to add taste and color to any pasta dish. Now you can go the natural route to pesto, via lots of basil, garlic and olive oil blended together in a food processor. Or, you can go the quick and easy route and purchase a jar of the stuff. With me, unless it's a for a special occasion, I'm happy with what I can get from the supermarket. Plus, pesto rarely has anything glutenous in it. In this case I went to Trader Joe's, where I picked up the pesto sauce, pine-nuts, and the gluten-free brown rice penne pasta. Try saying that last part 5 times fast!!
I make this dish a variety of ways, but this time I used Tofu as the protein source. We had our good friend Meghan coming over, and she's a strict vegetarian. Plus, a little plant estrogen now and then never hurt anybody. The way I like to deal with Tofu is by first freezing it. This causes the water to be sucked out of the Tofu, making it better to cook with (in my opinion), and also giving it a grittier, more textured feel. Because it's frozen, you'll want to make sure to plan ahead for this recipe and take the Tofu out of the freezer to thaw well before getting ready to cook.
- 8 to 10 oz. Penne Pasta (a little over 1/2 pound)
- 1/2 cup Pine Nuts (also called Pignolia)
- 2 cups chopped tomato
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 (7 to 10 oz.) jar of Pesto Sauce (check the ingredients for hidden gluten)
- 3 tblsp. vegetable oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta
- Drain the tofu and then pat dry with paper towels (or real ones). Chop up the tofu into relatively small pieces
- Chop up the tomatoes and set aside
- Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet, and add the tofu, seasoning generously with the salt and pepper (to taste). Cook on medium high heat, stirring frequently, until slightly browned.
- Once the tofu is slightly browned, throw in the pine nuts and reduce the heat, stirring constantly. Pine nuts can burn easily, so be careful
- Once the pine nuts are slightly cooked add the jar of pesto (or your own homemade stuff) and mix thoroughly
- Then add the chopped tomatoes, mix, reduce to simmer and cover
- If you haven't already, drain and rinse the pasta
- Keeping the pasta in the same pot you cooked it in, add the hot sauce and the parmesan cheese and stir over low heat.
- Top with a few basil leaves and some more cheese, and go to town!