This summer I have been particularly fond of pestos...trying my hand with all things green to whip up delicious sauces to add a bite of summer to our meals and to bring a bit of sunshine to David's life, who's schedule traps him inside hospital walls away from the outdoors.
I never thought I would enjoy pea pesto. I spent my whole life thinking that green peas were not fit to eat, thanks to my mom who told me repetitively that green peas were the only vegetable she hated. I never ate them as a child, because she didn't cook them. So, I, naturally, assumed they were awful. I didn't pick them out of food, but I never voluntarily added them to foods and when presented with the opportunity, I certainly didn't eat them on their own.
Over the past two years, I have made a lot of peas for my little man and I, consequently, have discovered a love for those little green vegetables. I've seasoned them with fresh mint, eaten them simply kosher salt, and added them to soups and pastas.
Following my fondness for pesto sauce this summer and finding inspiration from Deb at The Smitten Kitchen, I delightfully discovered how wonderful peas can taste in a pesto over warm pasta.
Pea Pesto Pasta:
Bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add a 16-ounce package of DEFROSTED frozen peas and cook for just 2 minutes (this leaves them with a bit of structure). Drain the peas, then add a few cubes of ice to the top of the pea pile while they are still in the colander. This will cool them down quickly and this is helpful since you need them to be lukewarm before making the pesto.
Once cooled, set aside 1 cup of your cooked peas. Blend the remaining peas in a food processor with 1 small clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Next, add 1/3 cup of olive oil very slowly...blending after every addition.
Cook 12 ounces of pasta until al dente (you can use any shape you want, we chose fusili). Reserve about two cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to the pot. Over moderate heat, toss the pasta with the pesto, reserved peas and as much reserved pasta water as needed to smooth and distribute the pesto; let cook for one minute so that the pesto adheres to the noodles. Adjust salt to taste and add freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh mint and parmesan cheese for passing.