Saturday, October 1, 2011

White Bean & Escarole Balls, Whole Wheat Penne & Hazelnut-Spinach Pesto

These bean 'meat' balls and pesto are stuffed with great ingredients that you may not eat often, but could certainly benefit from all the time. Escarole is found in the balls, while spinach and hazelnuts hide away in the pesto. If you can't find escarole, any dark green leaf like kale or chard can be substituted.  

Crisp on the outside, creamy on the side, white beans, escarole, garlic and meaty mushrooms form filling 'meat'balls to serve on top of whole wheat penne and homemade spinach hazelnut pasta.

White Bean & Escarole Balls
1 heaping cup cremini mushrooms
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 heaping cup roughly chopped escarole leaves
1-15oz can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
Whole wheat penne pasta, cooked

Preheat the oven to 350. Insert a baking sheet in the oven to get hot.
In a food processor, pule the mushrooms and garlic into roughly chopped pieces. Add the escarole and pulse a few times to break down into small pieces as well.
Add the beans, rosemary, salt and pepper and pulse until most of the beans have broken down, but some whole still remain. Stir in the panko and form into small balls, about 8-10 depending on size.
Take the pan out of the oven to grease the bottom. Add the balls and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown, turning the balls every 10 minutes or so to ensure even browning and crisping.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. When done, drain and reserve some of the cooking liquid. Use the starchy pasta water to thin out the pesto into a sauce to coat the pasta.

Spinach Hazelnut Pesto
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 heaping cup baby spinach leaves
1 cup toasted hazelnuts
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, pulse everything together except the oil until finely ground. Stream in the oil while blending until desired consistency, about 1/4-1/2 cup.

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