You may be thinking Pasta Pesto and Peas sounds Italian. Actually, it is. Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. The ancient Romans used to eat a similar paste called moretum, which was made by crushing garlic, salt, cheese, herbs, olive oil and vinegar together. source
But this dish has green ingredients and therefore I think it qualifies to be served on St. Patrick's Day. If you're not sure of my reasoning, you will still like the dish. It's got lots of good-for-you ingredients like spinach, basil, pasta, nuts and of course, peas.
If you prefer to keep the green theme going, you could garnish with green tomatoes. But since I live in the north and it isn't the end of summer, I don't have green tomatoes.
To make this dish even easier, I did not make the pesto but used a purchased one. If you have fresh basil available you can follow Ina's recipe below or this one I shared here (or click on photo)
And, if you are like me and manage to drop some on yourself while eating, you've got the Wearing of the green part covered too.
This recipe makes 12 servings so I made just half the recipe using only bow tie pasta. Use whatever you like.
Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
slightly adapted from Ina Garten Food Network
3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Grate the fresh Parmesan and squeeze the lemons.
Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.
Squeeze out the moisture in the spinach by pressing with a spoon against the side or a strainer. In a bowl, combine the spinach, pesto, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper; stir until smooth. This can also be done in a food processor fitted with a steel blade to puree the ingredients. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta.
Add the Parmesan, peas and pignolis (pine nuts). Toss and adjust seasonings. Serve at room temperature.
Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.
To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.
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