spinach and pea pesto pasta… served two ways

May 23rd, 2009 · 30 Comments

or maybe it’s not a pesto. i’m really not quite sure as there’s no cheese or nuts in this first version although in the second dish, both of those are added in a non-classical way. but regardless, i came home one afternoon last week and once again decided to cook by what needed ‘to go’. a very large container of baby spinach was still looking good, but 8 days after purchase, needed to be used. so that was the basis for what then became 2 fabulous dinners.

i’m on a mission to make a dent in what currently exists in my kitchen, as i’m wondering if the over abundance of food is acting as a sort of psychological stronghold, protecting everything from my safety to my image. so it’s time to lighten the freezer load, use some of the pricey condiments i’ve collected – and take cues from my voluptuous pantry. it’s springtime after all… and there’s nothing like a good purge.

i just find this to be beyond gorgeous…

the day before, i’d taken all of 15 minutes out of my life to reorganize my sizable freezer. seriously, it took only a mere 15 minutes and it shed a lot of light on what we’ll be eating these coming weeks. but for this dish i grabbed the 1/3 of a bag of frozen peas, a little ziplock of my fresh breadcrumbs and the very last bit of chris’s guanciale.

from the fridge came basil leaves – also needing an immediate purpose, peeled garlic cloves (thank you bittman) and the expensive bottle of verjus that was bought 2 years ago and barely used. luckily, it keeps…

into the processor went the spinach, peas (still frozen) and garlic. i used some ligurian olive oil but tried to keep it light, drizzling in the verjus for both a brightness aspect and the needed liquid. salt and pepper were added, the breadcrumbs were folded in by hand and salted water was put on to boil.

i diced up the little piece of guanciale, threw it in a pan until it rendered its fat and browned slightly. the "pesto" was then added along with some pasta water to loosen. the pasta was cooked and drained. simple.

but can we talk about these noodles? because for those of you that missed it – you need to have a look here. in a blind taste test, new york magazine had three top italian chefs and one ‘eater’ judge 8 brands of spaghetti. trader joe’s pasta, the inexpensive underdog came in first among some pretty surprising contenders. the very close second is the brand that i mail order on a regular basis and is 8x the price. and now i think we all know what i’ll be buying from here on in. the pasta pictured above is tj’s and it was just excellent in every way. who knew?

and then there was this dish…

lesley came for dinner the next night. she’s one of those incorruptible vegetarians. no pork for lesley. so out came the little grape tomatoes i’d bought that day, pignoli’s from the freezer and what was left of some 2 week old fontina cheese. the pasta, lazzaroli’s red pepper linguine, had been in my freezer for easily 6 months (and still in excellent condition) and would fit in just perfectly. while the water heated, pignoli’s were thrown in a pan until they took on a bit of color, the spinach pesto base was added along with the tomatoes, now sliced in half. when the pasta was cooked i took some of the liquid and added that to the pan, the linguine went in and everything was tossed together. fontina was added and – dinner.

pesto, schmesto – whatever it was, it was all wonderful…

Tags: pasta · pesto

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