Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pea and Parsley Pesto with Linguine

This is definitely a meal that feels like spring. Although the recent temperatures may be fooling us into thinking summer has already arrived, the calendar tells us that we've just barely passed the vernal equinox and I certainly don't want to skip over the quintessential flavors of spring. Although it's still a bit too early for farmer's market peas and parsley (though I have seen the first broccoli!), this dish is full of fresh flavor and definitely honors the spirit of spring dining. Pesto purists may balk at the idea of using anything other than pine nuts and basil, but my open mind and palate was more than delighted by the balanced combination of peas, parsley, and walnuts with de rigueur Parmesan and olive oil. You'll only use about half of the pesto in this recipe, so I recommend portioning the pesto into ice cube trays and freezing for a delicious sauce at your fingertips any time. If you're serving carnivores that simply can't enjoy a meal without meal, grilled chicken breast would be a great addition to this recipe, but it is completely satifying as is. Fresh, salty, nutty, and savory, this pasta is sure to please anytime from busy workday to romantic date night.

Pea and Parsley Pesto with Linguine
adapted from Everyday Food
serves 4

2 cups frozen peas (from a 10-ounce bag)
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
12 ounces whole wheat linguine or spaghetti

1. Cook 1 cup peas according to package instructions. In a food processor, combine cooked peas, parsley, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, and 1 tablespoon water. Pulse until a paste forms. With machine running, slowly add oil, processing until blended; season with salt and pepper.

2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, adding 1 cup peas 30 seconds before end of cooking. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and peas. Return pasta and peas to pot; toss with 3/4 cup pesto (reserve remainder for another use), adding enough pasta water to create a sauce that coats pasta. Serve pasta with more Parmesan.

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