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Sum of Our Parts: Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto (Bon Appétit’s Cook the Cover)

May 30th, 2013

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto

Lucky. It is a word that we throw around without giving it much thought. Luck is a relative term, defined by those who are lucky and those who are not. In the grand scheme of things, we who have food on the table every night are lucky. Some of us are luckier; some have bigger kitchens, more cars, land, a job we love, a job we hate, an orange tree in our backyard, three really good friends, one really good friend, a sibling, a pet that feels like family, family nearby, family far away, good health, bad health but good doctors.

I happen to think that most of us are luckier than we think. But it is easy to forget.

When you have one really good friend instead of three. Or a well-paying job that is only so-so on the fulfillment scale. This past weekend, my 30th birthday, I found myself grappling with my own state of being. I hosted a picnic with a handful of wonderful friends, family, and lovely people who I have only recently met. Neko was a good little baby. And then she was not. My Sunday night and Monday were a series of frustrations. I found myself crumpled on the ground on several occasions, hosting a pity party for myself. All that stuff I had written when I started this post last week was thrown out the window. I felt defeated, wounded, and entirely incapable of seeing just how lucky I am.

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto

The thing about luck is that it is perceived. Much like happiness. I find it interesting that luck is defined as: good fortune, advantage or success, considered as a result of chance. Because I actually think that being lucky has nothing to do with chance, and everything to do with mindset. Imagine feeling lucky to have an opportunity to take a vacation to Hawaii, or being able to spend a night at home with your husband while your parents babysit, or being accepted into the college of your dreams, or having your book published. I could go on and on. The point is, we are all lucky in one way or another. And most of it has very little to do with chance.

I am lucky to have once had the opportunity to live in Italy, where I packed on 15 pounds worth of pasta and gelato. I have, over the years, forgotten how much I love all things doused in pesto, and when the June issue of Bon Appétit arrived at my apartment, with a gorgeous bowl of green-flecked pasta on the cover, I had a beautiful revelation. This pesto, which I adapted ever so slightly by using green onion instead of chives, is the sort of thing that takes a box of spaghetti to a new level. We’ve been smothering it over homemade meatballs, and I imagine it would be fantastic tossed into a bowl of roasted veggies. There are a million and one pesto recipes out there — featuring different herbs, nuts, and oils — but this one might be a new favorite.

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto
adapted from the June 2013 issue of Bon Appétit (Cook the Cover)

1 pound of spaghetti
1/2 cup of unsalted almonds
4 cups of flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup of chopped chives or green onion (green parts only)
3/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper and kosher salt

1. Add the almonds to a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Next, add the parsley leaves, green onion, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Process until smooth, then season with salt and pepper.
2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain, but reserve about 2 cups of pasta water.
3. Toss the pasta with the pesto in a large bowl. Add pasta water (no more than 1/4 cup at a time), until the pesto becomes saucy. Don’t use all the cooking water if it’s not needed. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with additional cheese, as desired. Pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Spaghetti with Parsley Peso + Musical Pairings: The National Trouble Will Find Me
the-nationalMore on the Turntable.


  • sarah kieffer

    Love this post, and I totally agree: our mindset is so important. And it’s so easy to focus on what others have/do/create, instead of focusing on all the good things that surround us. It’s something I’m always working on.

    (And, I know about those birthdays. My first holiday with a little one was so hard; and the realization that I would never have a relaxing Christmas morning for such a long time was hard to accept. Hugs and love to you, friend.)

    Your pasta looks delicious! A perfect summer evening meal.

  • Nicole

    I believe the same thing. Mindset is everything. We can choose to look at the things that aren’t quite where we think they should be, but I always find there is so much more to be grateful for. I hope you had the best 30th, Kasey. This pesto looks like a great find!

  • http://hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com/ Eileen

    I’m so excited about the proliferation of different pestos that have exploded in the past few years! Parsley and almond sounds delicious–subtle and sophisticated, but still huge with flavor. Hooray!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Oh man, it is so so nice to hear from you on this, Sarah. I look back on these individual tough days and I know they will come and go, but it is HARD. I know it all pays off though. :) xo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Exactly. We have a lot to be grateful for, for sure. I am obsessed with pesto right now!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Ditto! I want to experiment more. Thanks for saying hi, Eileen.

  • http://cookieandkate.com/ Cookie and Kate

    I totally agree, feeling “lucky” is all about our mindset. This pesto caught my eye on Bon Appetit’s cover, too. I really want to try it soon!

  • Willow

    Yes! I couldn’t agree more – I think we take so many things for granted, but it’s all about our mindset and how we perceive our fortunes or misfortunes that define what they really are. You said it all so beautifully!

    As for this pasta, I think your photos have done for me what the bon appetit cover did for you… I *need* to make me some pesto! :)

  • http://londonbakes.blogspot.com Kathryn

    Lucky is one of my least favourite words in the world (I have a whole rant about it that I’ll post one day) because it means nothing. Sure, some people might look ‘lucky’ but more likely than not, they worked hard to make themselves seem lucky. You’re so right about it being a mindset rather than anything else and appreciating what we really have, not what we don’t have. This pesto sounds really wonderful, so bright and fresh for summer.

  • sara forte

    I’m reading tiny beautiful things (Strayed) and one of my favorite chapter/nubs of wisdom from her is about “playing the hand you’re dealt”, I would have to search for the quote. There will always be a better job, more money, someone prettier, richer, people who seem to have better “luck”… but at a certain point, mooping over those things doesn’t change your reality. And like you said, if you take a good look, we all have things that are full of good fortune. You take your cards and make the very best of them, play them as they are – the ones you have.
    Hugh hates parsley but this pesto looks so good! I can do a mix of herbs, and get some past him, so I’ll manage with that for now. Beautiful pics. Glad you had a fun birthday, beautiful lady!!

  • Ashley

    Seriously, yes to this all. Over the last couple of years I’ve been learning more and more about choosing my thoughts. I used to hate that idea – I figured I felt what I was feeling for a reason so I’d allow myself to mope, and throw killer pity parties. And now I realize that there is enough joy in the everyday to bring about contentment, peace and happiness. It’s a constant battle of choosing to see the good rather than focus on the not-so-good but I am finding freedom in knowing that I have a bit of control over my contentment.
    I made parsley pesto last year as I had an abundance of it in the garden and man oh man I ate it on everything. Thanks for the reminder that I’m need of another batch as the parsley has returned in full force.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I try to remind myself of this over and over because it’s the best outlook on life. xoxo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you, Willow! I’m glad to hear it resonated. And I’m glad that I’ve inspired you to want to make some pesto – I feel like I rediscovered it myself.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Kathryn, I’d love to read your rant sometime…I also think it’s worth mentioning that people who might look lucky might not be at all – it all depends on what you’re judging on. Yay for summer! xo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Ohh, I have not heard of this…must check it out. I love the quote – it’s so spot on…I think it’s important to understand the value of what you have and make sure you make the most of it. But it’s not always easy! I’m sorry to hear that Hugh hates pesto, but you should totally try out different herbs -Bon Appetit recommended a number of different combinations to try :) xo

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Ashley, I know exactly what you mean! Sometimes, I’d almost relish a good pity party and wind myself up more and more, instead of proactively choosing a different thought process. It is HARD, and I’m hoping to get better at it. I can’t wait to grow my own herbs :) xo

  • daphne

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