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Go green with this recipe for pesto pasta with smoked mozzarella

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During a month that celebrates Earth Day, go even more green -- literally! For a light, simple and flavorful meal or side dish, try this recipe for Pesto Pasta with Smoked Mozzarella.

Green pesto packs an amazing punch of flavor, and it requires very little time to prepare this sauce at home. While this is easiest with a food processor or blender, pesto dates back as far as the Roman ages, when it was ground by hand using a mortar and pestle (and, in fact, the word "pesto" is derived from the Italian word pestare, meaning "to crush or pound").

Fresh is best, but if you lack the culinary inclination, you can always even purchase pre-made pesto. Fortunately, this sauce is popular enough to find at standard grocery stores. For an especially well-rounded dish, toss this pesto pasta with smoke-cured mozzarella for added bite. Can't find smoked mozzarella at your grocery store? You can even try to make it at home yourself with this recipe or general how-to.

This Pesto Pasta with Smoked Mozzarella is an excellent recipe to prepare through the warmer weather ahead. A zesty pasta salad, you can share this dish at picnics or barbecues, chilled or warm. You won't be disappointed!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup pecorino cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 8 oz rotini pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed smoked mozzarella

Directions:

Blend the basil, pine nuts, pecorino cheese and garlic until coarsely chopped in a food processor. Slowly add the olive oil and continue blending until smooth. Add salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain into a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Once cool enough to handle, transfer the rotini to a bowl. Stir in the pesto with the reserved pasta water until combined into a sauce that coats the pasta. Finally, toss with the bite-sized smoked mozzarella cubes.

Serve warm or chilled.

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