I was looking for something easy and delicious to make for P after a hard day’s work because I
was feeling guilty about being a kept woman am a model wife. Peas caught my fancy and though it is late spring/summer in these parts I was unsure if fresh peas are available and settled for the frozen kind (blasphemy). Thanks to my handy counter top scale it was easy for me to modify this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Why mess with perfection, you ask? Because we could not find pine nuts at Checkers I’m innovative like that.
1 1/2 cups (from approximately 1 1/2 pounds peas in pods) fresh pea or 10-ounces of frozen peas
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cashews
1 tablespoon walnuts
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon table salt, (approx, I used a little more)
1/3 cup olive oil, (approx, I used a little less)
12 ounces dried fettucine
Garnish: chopped mint leaves (a pretty garnish is always optional, but the mint really adds a refreshing summer taste)
Oh! I almost forgot. This is enough for 4 people with a salad for dinner, or two generous servings and two small lunches the next day. It looks fabu in a bento box.
First blanch your frozen peas. Mine were part-way thawed, I measured ten ounces and just barely covered them with water in a small pot. Boil them for no more than two and a half minutes, quickly drain and shock them in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking and prevent them from getting mushy and disgusting like the canned variety, then drain them from the ice bath. Set aside half a cup of the peas.
While this is going on, boil the water for the fettucini and put a generous pinch (or two) of salt in to flavor the noodles. When the fettucini is done SAVE two cups of the pasta water (but you probably won’t need it all).
Fry the walnuts and cashews with one of the chopped garlic cloves with barely a tinge of oil, just long enough to brown them.
Put the peas, nuts and cloves, the remaining raw garlic clove, olive oil, salt, and parmesan in a food processor and mix into a pesto. Taste it and adjust the salt. It will be quite thick.
After the pasta is drained and two cups of the pasta water set aside, return the pasta to the pot and mix together the pesto and the fettucini. You will notice that it is quite thick and this is when you should start adding the pasta water. This will thin out the pesto a bit and make it spread and stick to the noodles. You should also have the heat turned on low under the pot. Mix it well and keep adding pasta water as needed. Then add your reserved peas from earlier. I like to save this step for the end because I care about food aesthetics and it saves that half cup from being complete mashed up when you are mixing in the pesto and water. Once the pesto is thinned out, distributed evenly, and sticking to all the fettucini you are finished!
Add extra parmesan for serving and your mint leaves for garnish. We enjoyed it with a Chenin Blanc, but I will not presume to tell you what to drink with it.
Yum, summer in your mouth.Bon Appétit!