Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pea-sto Pasta

Whole wheat fusilli with pesto sauce and peas, tomatoes, asparagues, and mushrooms

Peas are one of my favorite spring vegetables. While I don't think I have ever made a Rachel Ray recipe, I was watching an episode featuring "pea-sto pasta".  Names like that are one of the reasons some people are less than enthusiastic about Rachel Ray. I love puns, I love peas, and I love pasta, so this sounded like something worth trying. The peas aren't added to the pesto, but to the pasta dish. However, I might try adding peas to the pesto in the future.

Enjoying our pasta dish!

Homemade pesto is really rather simple to put together and can take on many different flavors. Traditional pesto uses sweet basil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. I used walnuts, meyer lemons, and a combination of basil and cilantro. The result is a brighter flavor. Toasting the walnuts brings an earthier flavor to the dish, and is a technique I highly recommend. 

Close up.

After the ingredients have been blended in the food processor, you can boil the pasta. I chose a fusilli because it provides a greater surface area for the pesto to cling to.  While the pasta cooks, sautee the vegetables. I chose mushrooms, asparagus, and frozen peas. A little pasta water can be added to the pan to allow the vegetables to soften. When the pasta ia al dente, drain, saving a little water from the pot.  Add the pasta and pesto to the vegetables. At this point I added some chopped tomato as well. Heat through 3-5 minutes.

The pesto has great kick from the garlic and lemon juice, while the sweet basil and cheese balance out those strong flavors. The sweet peas compliment the basil, and the vegetables add a freshness to the dish. This pasta dish is light and flavorful, a perfect spring meal.

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