By now you know that I have a love for that beautiful green sauce called Pesto. Since its late spring in Texas and my Basil is growing wildly out of control right now many of my recent posts have had something to do with this delightful sauce. So I figured what’s the harm in one more….
I love to make this pasta in the springtime when the asparagus and the English peas are at their peak. This pasta dish is not only a beautiful shade of spring green it also packs a healthy and hardy punch. When I make pesto for this pasta dish I prefer whole-wheat rotini pasta. The nutty flavor of the whole wheat pasta compliments the strong basil and garlic flavors in the pesto, add in the crisp asparagus, the sweet peas, and a few extra toasted pine nuts and you have a quick and easy meal that I guarantee you will make again and again.
Mel’s Springtime Pesto
1lb box of Whole Wheat Rotini pasta
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 cups fresh English Peas (or Frozen Peas)
½ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.
3 cups fresh sweet Italian Basil leaves
1 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano
½ cup toasted pine nuts
1 lemon (the zest and juice)
2 pinches of red pepper flakes
½ of good quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Snap the ends off the asparagus, and then cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal.
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade add the garlic cloves and pulse 4 times. Then add in your basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice and pulse another 5 times. Next add in the parmigiano reggiano cheese and the toasted pine nuts and pulse another 5 times. Last with the machine running slowly stream in the olive oil until well incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.
When the water comes to a boil, toss in your asparagus, after 2 minutes add the English peas to the pot and cook for another 20 seconds. Pull the peas and asparagus out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and lock in the color.
Bring the water back up to a boil and cook the pasta to al-dente according to the package instructions. When the pasta is done cooking reserve one cup of the pasta water before straining out the pasta. In a large serving bow toss the hot pasta, pesto, asparagus, and peas. If the pesto sauce is a little too thick add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce. Top with the additional ½ of toasted pine nuts and grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.
Enjoy with a nice glass of Viognier.