Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pesto Farfalle with Peas and Spinach

Pesto. Sounds expensive. Piles of fresh herbs, pine nuts at $10.99/lb. And sure, you probably already have a recipe that calls for visiting that fridge in the grocery store keeping the prefab pico de gallo and hummus "fresh."

We made this pesto recipe so easy, so delicious, and so cheap that we made it for dinner two nights in a row. This is a pretty traditional recipe except:
  • Substitute walnuts for pine nuts, which cost much more and are no more delicious.
  • Balance all the flavors with lemon juice.
  • Forego finicky, restaurant-y methods like blanching vegetables or using a mortar and pestle.

The best pasta to use in pesto is farfalle (bowties), with its little ridges that get deliciously filled with sauce. If you're feeling fancy, try adding a tablespoon of unsalted butter and using a 50-50 cheese mix of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino. Who knows--maybe you'll end up making it three days in a row instead of two.

Pesto Farfalle with Peas and Spinach

Cooking Time
20 minutes

4 people. This is really filling.

Small nonstick pan
Wooden spoon
Pot to make pasta
Salad spinner or paper towels
Food processor
Rubber spatula
Cheese grater or Microplane

2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1 clove garlic
1 large handful Italian parsley leaves, picked from stems (~1 cup)
3 large handfuls basil leaves, picked from stems (~3.5 cups)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
~1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lb farfalle
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
2 large handfuls baby spinach

1. Boil 6 quarts water with 2 tablespoons salt. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a small nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add walnuts and toast until well-browned, about 3 minutes, stirring intermittently to make sure they don't burn. Set aside.

2. Rinse basil and parsley in cold water and spin dry or pat dry with paper towels.

3. In a food processor, pulse toasted walnuts and garlic for a few seconds. Add basil and parsley and purée until evenly mixed, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, about 45 seconds.

4. Slowly drizzle in about half the olive oil while puréeing for five more seconds. Stop and scrape down sides. Repeat with the rest of the olive oil.

5. Add in red pepper flakes, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and lemon juice. Purée until incorporated. Taste for seasoning; if it's too "green," add more cheese.

6. Cook pasta according to package instructions minus 1 minute. Save 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain. Turn heat to low.

7. Add peas and reserved pasta water to cooked pasta. Add pesto, using the rubber spatula to get every bit out of the food processor. Stir until everything is incorporated. Add spinach and let wilt, about 1 minute.  

8. Serve and top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano, of course. Try to resist getting thirds.

1 comment:

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