Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Yellow Haricot Verts, Beet Leaves, and Grilled Red Bell Pepper in Pesto Sauce

I love me a good pesto pasta dish, but I often find that adding colorful vegetables makes the meal ten times more satisfying and flavorful. I especially love the combination of grilled vegetables and pesto sauce. Experimenting with different seasonal vegetables and different colors is all part of the fun, and let it be known that the more colorful your plate, the better the chance that you are eating a healthy, more balanced meal. Besides the obvious nutritional benefits in opting for whole wheat, I find that sturdier whole wheat pasta has a much more satisfying texture than regular pasta, which is so easily overcooked and mushy.

Ingredients: (About 4 servings) Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 large red bell pepper, 2 cups yellow haricot verts, one bunch beet leaves washed and with tough stems removed, one pesto recipe, grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Recipe: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make the pesto. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the directions. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan and drizzle with olive oil. Slice the bell pepper into strips and add to the hot grill pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Using tongs, turn the slices every few minutes to make sure they get nice grill marks on both sides.

Trim the stems off of the haricot verts and add to a steamer basket. Add the beet leaves on top of the beans. Cover with the lid and let steam for about 6-7 minutes or until the beans are tender.

Spoon a few spoonfuls of the pasta water into a small bowl and set aside. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and return it immediately to the pot over low heat. Add the pesto, grilled red bell pepper, haircot verts, beat leaves, and stir. Add the pasta water by spoonful if necessary. Drizzle with a dash more olive oil to make sure it’s not too dry. Serve immediately with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

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