Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Linguine with Pea Pesto

Ever since I was a kid, I've loved sugar snap peas. My mom used to buy them at the grocery store or farmer's market and I'd snack on them the entire drive home. For some reason I have never really cooked with frozen peas until recently. I don't know why I avoided them, especially since they can be used in great dishes, like this linguine, and require much less work that fresh peas (I'm possibly the world's slowest pea sheller, and usually end up eating half of them in the process). I didn't have fresh peas around when I made this, and was still very happy with the results.

I wasn't expecting to love this linguine when I first read the recipe. I thought it would be good, but was not expecting it to be as delicious as it was. I was very pleasantly surprise by the flavor of the pesto and even though I wasn't all that hungry when I ate this, I still managed to clear my plate. Don't forget to add salt and pepper to the linguine at the end, otherwise it will taste slightly bland. My sister and I made this together and kept adding salt and pepper until the pasta reached a flavor we liked. This still tastes great on the second day, so don't worry if you have leftovers.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 3 to 4

10 ounces (283 grams) frozen peas, defrosted or 1 1/2 cups fresh peas, shelled
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and cooled
1/2 cup (1 1/8 ounces) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon table salt, plus more for pasta water
1/3 cup olive oil
12 ounces dried linguine
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Add the peas and cook until just done, about 2 minutes. If you want to make sure your peas don't overcook, place them in an ice bath, otherwise just run them under cold water (which is what I did). Allow peas to cool to lukewarm before making the pesto.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the peas. Place the remaining peas in a food processor. Add the garlic, pine nuts, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, and salt to the food processor and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides if necessary. With the machine still running, slowly add the olive oil until incorporated.

In a pot, bring salted water to boil and cook the linguine until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water (I only ended up using about 1/4 to 1/3 cup, but it's best to reserve more rather than less) and drain the linguine. Place the linguine back into the pot. Over moderate heat, mix in the pesto, reserved peas, and enough pasta water to achieve a smooth consistency. Depending on how thick your pesto turned out, you will need more or less pasta water. Cook for about a minute and season with salt and pepper. I was generous with the salt and pepper and it made the pesto go from good to great.

Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and serve.

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