Friday, May 23, 2014

Pea and Almond Pesto

I’ve been struggling to put together a post featuring this simple and delicious recipe for a pea and almond sauce on pasta with extra peas. I just couldn’t think of anything extraordinary to say about it. I didn’t grow the peas. In fact, I just put my pea seeds in the ground and it will be weeks before I have any peas at all. And if I did have home-grown peas I’d probably just eat them somewhere on the very short walk from the garden to the house. They’d never make it into a pasta sauce.

Of course you don’t need fresh peas at all for this recipe. A bag of frozen peas is significantly less expensive and more convenient and taste just fine, too. Pea and Almond Pesto isn’t necessarily a seasonal recipe, then, since you can get frozen peas any time. The flavors are so deliciously sweet and light, however, that this dish volunteers to be served in the spring.

This whole dish takes just about the amount of time to make as it takes to cook a pot of pasta. It’s also easily doubled, so you could feed a crowd with it if you need to. The little bit of sweetness in the almonds is a good compliment to the sweet peas and, in turn, the little bit of nutty flavor in the peas serves as a bridge to the almonds. Overall, this dish is so easy and so delicious, I want to make it all the time! If that’s not enough to say about a recipe, then, too bad. It’s what I have to say about this one.

Pea and Almond Pesto with Pasta and Peas
Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

8 ounces uncooked pasta, preferably a short pasta
10 ounces frozen peas
½ cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and until it is as done as you like it. During the last three minutes of cooking, add half (5 ounces) of the peas. Drain the pasta and peas reserving a cup of cooking liquid. Set aside and keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, place the almonds in the bowl of a food processer. Process until finely ground. Add the remaining half of the peas, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Process to a thick paste, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl as needed.

3. With the machine running, slowly add 2 tablespoons olive oil through the opening at the top of the food processor. Check the sauce for consistency, adding additional olive oil if needed. Toss the pesto with the hot cooked pasta and peas, adding some of the reserved pasta cooking water to thin the sauce if needed.

Makes 3-4 servings. This recipe is easily doubled.

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