Cilantro Pesto Pasta

Cilantro Pesto
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Onion Mixture
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1 cup diced red bell pepper
4 1/2 oz. can mild green chilies
1/2 oz. dried orecchiette, gnocchi or medium shell pasta
1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese (3 oz.)

1. Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, make pesto: In small dry skillet, toast almonds over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until light golden and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes.Transfer to small bowl and let cool.

3. In food processor, combine almonds, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, salt and pepper; process until finely chopped. With motor running, add 2 Tbs. oil and lime juice through the feed tube, processing until mixture forms paste and stopping to scrape down sides of work bowl as necessary. Transfer mixture to small bowl.

4. Add pasta to boiling water; stir to prevent sticking. Cook, stirring often, until just tender, 8 to 12 minutes. While pasta is cooking, in large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell
pepper; cook, stirring often, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add green chilies and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

5. Just before pasta is cooked, scoop out 13 cup of pasta cooking water and add to pesto, stirring well. Drain pasta and transfer to large, warm bowl.Add onion mixture and cheese; toss to coat well. Serve immediately.


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