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Pasta with Pea Pesto

June 11, 2012

You don’t have to go outside to know it’s summer.  Just go to the grocery store and check out the produce.  Okay, I guess that involves going outside, but you know what I mean.

One of my favorite fresh vegetables is the simple pea.  It’s just a little, humble vegetable, but it packs a flavorful whallop.  At the same time, I often have the frozen variety laying around, and this is one of many recipes that makes good use of a leftover bag of frozen peas.  But use fresh peas if you can.

Pasta with Summer Pea Pesto 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 pound dry pasta (we used linguine, but any long-shape would work well here, and I’m dying to try it with a short shape)
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas (or a defrosted 10 oz bag of frozen peas)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (grated with one of the medium holes of the grater; you don’t want the stuff that comes pre-grated and powdery, unless you don’t care about garnishing the pasta with extra-pretty surplus cheese)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt (and more for the pasta pot)
  • garnish: slivered basil

I don’t know what I did before I discovered the beauty of blanching vegetables – which I (Amanda) discovered the first time I made the cauliflower I cooked for the mister on our second date.  But now that I’ve discovered it, it’s like it’s unlocked a whole new world of vegetable adoration.

All of which is to say that I heartily recommend you follow Deb’s advice and blanch the peas used in this recipe.

Bring a medium pan filled with water and bring to a boil.  While the water is heating, prepare an ice bath for the peas by filling a large bowl with the coldest water your faucet will give you and adding plenty of ice.

Once the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt, then the peas, and cook the peas for two minutes.  Drain the peas in a colander and put the peas in the ice bath.  Let them sit in the ice bath for a few minutes, then drain again.

Set a large pot of water to boil.

Take all but 1/2 cup of the peas and place them in the bowl of a food processor (set the 1/2 cup  aside for later).  Add the garlic, toasted pine nuts, the salt, and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan (saving the rest for later) to the food processor.  Process until smooth (2 – 3 minutes).  You will have to turn the processor off and scrape the bowl down a few times, because this stuff goes everywhere.  Once the mixture is smooth, slowly pour in the olive oil while the machine is on, then pulse a few more times.

By this point, your water should be boiling.  Salt the pot and pour in the dried pasta.  Boil until the pasta is al dente.  Reserve two cups of the pasta water.

Turn the burner down to medium.  Drain the pasta, then return it to the pot along with the pesto and the extra 1/2 cup of peas you set aside earlier.  Toss it with one of those funny-shaped pasta servers so the pasta is well-coated, adding in the reserved pasta water a little at a time until you reach the desired texture.  Cook for one minute and remove from heat.

Transfer to serving dishes, seasoning with additional salt and maybe some pepper, as needed, and garnishing with the additional parmesan and some sliced basil (if desired).

Pictured here with some other yumminess we’ll share eventually

You can also prepare the pesto in advance, store in the refrigerator, and use it within a day or two.

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