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Meatless Monday recipe of the week: Bow Tie Pasta with Pea Pesto

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This Meatless Monday meal is about as green as you can get — fitting for the upcoming Earth Day and the beautifully green days of early spring.

This recipe also happens to leave green in your wallet: fresh or frozen peas are inexpensive and tasty, bow tie pasta can be had on the cheap, and lemons are a good price right now in stores. The most expensive ingredient here happens to be (take your pick) the cheese or the nuts, and you don't need much of either, making their cost a non-issue.

So, enjoy your Meatless Monday with an easy, tasty, green pasta dish that comes together quickly and leaves you with cash in your wallet for next week.

Bow Tie Pasta with Pea Pesto

2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) peas (divided)

2/3 cup unsalted pistachios or blanched almonds or hazelnuts (divided)

1 small clove garlic

1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided)

1/3 cup pistachio oil or extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

1 pound bow tie pasta (6 cups cooked)

If you're using fresh peas, bring a pan of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the peas for 90 seconds. Drain and plunge the peas into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. When cool, drain again and transfer 3/4 cup of the peas to a food processor. Reserve the remainder of the peas.

Add 1/3 cup of the nuts and the garlic to the peas in the food processor and process until the mixture is coarsely puréed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor at least once.

Add the ricotta cheese and 2 tablespoons of hot water to the food processor and process again until smooth. Add half of the parmesan, oil, mint, and lemon zest, and process until smooth. Season the pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Roughly chop the remaining pistachio nuts and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to package directions. Remove and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, then drain the pasta in a colander.

Return the pasta to the pot and add the pea pesto. Stir until the pasta is coated, adding some of the reserved pasta water as needed to create a creamy consistency. Stir in the reserved peas and divide the pasta among 6 warm plates. Sprinkle each serving with some of the chopped nuts and the reserved parmesan. Serve immediately.

— Recipe from www.ebfarm.com.

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