Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Giada's Pea and Spinach Pesto

I watched Giada make this pesto on her show, Everyday Italian, one morning and thought it looked really good. The green peas add a nice green color and fresh taste that Giada said even her 5 year old loved. I had the last half of a bag of spinach from SLO Veg that I needed to "use it or lose it", so I decided it would become pesto. The photo is from a week ago when I made a spinach and fruit smoothie. This was mature spinach, big leaves. Because I had picked up some fresh basil from our Farmer's Market vendor Mount Olive, who I blogged about previously, I added a bit of that with the spinach. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151341101126668.491511.673326667&type=1&l=323920e149.

Note: We recently switched to an every-other-week delivery schedule for SLO Veg with a large box for now to see how that works for us. Taylor doesn't eat at home much now that he is working and I am working on dayshift. I find I have to supplement a little more, but its actually fun to get out to a Farmer's Market and see what all is being offered and talk to the vendors. When I recognize a SLO Veg vendor, I like to say hi and tell them I am a customer and purchase something from their booth.

I also used some large green onions from the tote box, a couple cloves of garlic, a chunk of sun-dried tomato, and some parmesan and mozarella cheeses. My peas were frozen and weren't mixing well, but when I added the olive oil, it began to come together. I used more spinach than Giada's recipe called for, and I just used regular mozarella, not smoked, but if I ever buy some of that smoked cheese that we don't inhale for a snack, I may try it that way sometime. 

The batch I whipped up is about 2 cups, way more than I need for a batch of pasta, so I am taking a smallish container over to my daughter's house this morning so she can make some pasta at home. I still do have some frozen basil pesto disks in the freezer for quick pasta additions that I might use some evening, so I don't want to freeze any of this batch. I thought this would be fun, fresh and pair well with the chicken breasts that I had taken out to defrost this morning. I think I will even coat the chicken breasts in the pesto before baking them in the oven tonight. We will have a really pesto-y dinner!


Fusilli with Pea Pesto and Mozzarella
Adapted from a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis


Kosher salt
1 pound fusilli pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
2 large large green onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
2 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cup grated mozzarella
2 cups baby spinach leaves, packed
5-6 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Lemon pepper
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped


For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the drained pasta in a large bowl. Add the cheese and toss until coated.

For the pesto: In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the lemon pepper. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peas, mozzarella, spinach, Parmesan, lemon juice, lemon zest, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the cooked shallot mixture. Blend until smooth, but still slightly chunky, adding in the reserved olive oil through the blender top hole.

Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss until coated, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve.

Cook's Note: To toast the almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before using.

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