Pesto is the best sauce-invention ever. You can make simple, gourmet (seeming) meals in a flash - provided you buy the pesto. I lived on pesto during grad school. All of my friends in grad school came over and had the "pesto pasta with veggies dish." Which, I still eat, though not as often, and is the subject of this SGG post.
Unfortunately, I've never successfully made my own pesto. I only tired once, I don't have a chopper/food processor and I'm also not an Italian grandmother, so I don't need one. One of my SGG goals for the year included potentially trying this again but thus far my herb garden has ceased to provide any basil. I suppose that means I'm off the hook.
In grad school, I lived in the Netherlands and there was an abundance of tasty pesto available, however, I now find my choices to be limited - or nonexistent. I'm sure there are places with delicious pesto in DC, it's probably just $15 a jar. At the grocery store, there is one kind, that's right one. I actually asked a stock person once where I could find the pesto and he did not know what it was. Bad sign. So making your own might not be a bad idea.
In any case, when I do have good pesto available or settle for the so-so stuff, I make my grad school staple. It's simple, can use just about anything in the fridge and can be vegetarian or not.
Pesto pasta with Veggies
1-2 servings of hot pasta, cooked according to package directions (any kind of pasta you like, rotini works well)
2 cups chopped mixed veggies (can use almost anything you like, suggestions: summer squash, tomatoes, corn, broccoli, peppers)
2-3 TB of pesto
garlic to taste
salt and pepper to taste
bacon or chicken, 1 inch pieces (optional)
cheese (optional, mozzarella suggested)
While cooking the pasta, in a small skillet cook bacon cubes or chicken pieces with garlic, salt and pepper for 5-6 minutes on medium heat until almost cooked. If using chicken, you might need a little bit of oil, the bacon will produce enough grease. Add veggies and cook 3-4 more minutes until veggies are soft and meat is thoroughly cooked. Toss with hot pasta and pesto sauce. Add veggie/meat mixture, top with cheese and serve.
While cooking the pasta, in a small skillet saute garlic in olive oil for 30 seconds and add veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Add veggies, top with cheese and serve.