Pasta with Kale, Sausage, and Mushrooms

I love pasta dishes and I especially love it when I can incorporate enough vegetables to feel like I don’t need to cook an extra vegetable side dish.  In this recipe I add an entire (small) bunch of kale and mushrooms (I know, these are technically not veggies) and I feel like that’s the perfect healthy balance to the sausage, pasta, and other ingredients.  I ended up just making this a one dish meal.  I didn’t serve any other sides and everyone was full after a serving or two.

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whole wheat pasta with spinach and basil pesto, chicken and tomatoes

It’s no secret that I have a special affinity for pesto.  There is just so much flavor packed into one little sauce.  While it’s typically made with Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts, there are actually a lot of different variations that add in green veggies.  Two in particular that I’ve been wanting to try are kale and spinach.

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pesto grilled cheese with tomato and mozzarella

I love a good grilled cheese and so does the rest of my family.  When I need an easy meal that I know will make everyone happy (meaning no whining from the kids) I can always count on it to fit the bill.  I also love pesto.  A lot.  So imagine my happiness when I discovered the perfect grilled cheese combination that included pesto.  This grilled cheese made with pesto, mozzarella, and tomato is amazing.  It takes the traditional grilled cheese up a notch, for sure.  And since it has tomatoes it’s healthy, right?  Seriously though, just make it with whole grain bread and serve it with fruit, salad or another green veggie and you have a well balanced meal.  My kids love it and when I made it again this week they begged me for seconds.  Unfortunately, I was out of bread and pesto so they didn’t get seconds but I was so happy to know how much they liked it.  I diced the tomatoes for their sandwiches so they didn’t see huge scary pieces of tomato.  I notice that they tend to pull out big chunks of vegetables from things I make but if I cut them small they usually don’t complain as much.

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classic homemade pesto

One of my favorite parts of summer is eating fresh basil from my herb garden.  Basil is a great topping for salads, pizza and pasta dishes.  But my favorite way to use basil is in homemade pesto.  I could eat it on just about anything.   Pesto is so flavorful and can take a boring dish and make it much more exciting.  It’s not only delicious but it’s very versatile too.  Take a look at some of my favorite uses for pesto:

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