This pasta is absolutely divine (if I do say so myself). It literally screams 'summer', I mean... look at it! In actuality, the pesto is what's really divine. The noodles and vegetables are just a vehicle. I wanted to really play on the theme of 'Green' so I chose to use fresh English peas, sugar snap peas, freshly picked herbs, and fava beans offering all different shades and varieties of textures (4x the green people!). The pesto itself is loaded with so much flavor, you'll barely be able to handle it. Tossing this in with piping hot pasta and crispy fresh vegetables, it makes for the perfect summer dish. Feel free to play with different ingredients as you could take this in so many fun directions. To access unique varieties of basil, I highly recommend checking out your local farmer's market as they will have all of the cool stuff. I actually used 7 different varieties of basil in my pesto but I just so happen to be growing them all ;) Time for you to get some pots of your own, eh? Have fun!
garden pesto pasta
serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup blanched almonds (no skin)
2 cups fresh basil (as many varieties available- lime, lemon, blue spice, sweet), packed
1/3 cup fresh oregano, packed
1/3 cup fresh thyme, packed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, packed
1/3 cup fresh chive, packed
1/4 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mellow white or chickpea miso
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 - 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (depending on desired tanginess)
1/2 teaspoon sugar or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
vegetables + pasta:
1 cup English peas, frozen
1 cup sugar snap peas, blanched
1 cup fava beans, blanched
1 box or bag of orecchiette pasta (or variety of your choice)
Fresh herbs to garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds and nutritional yeast on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes until the mixture is fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove, let cool, and toss into a food processor along with the basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and chive, olive oil, miso, garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar or agave, pepper, and sea salt. Blend for a few minutes until nice and smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a spoon. Taste a little bit and see if you'd like to add more salt or pepper. Set aside.
Bring one small pot of water with a dash of salt to boil and toss in the fava beans and cook for 5 minutes to give them a head start. Then add the English peas and sugar snap peas. Cook for another 5 minutes until the peas are bright green. Drain the vegetables and submerge them in a large bowl of ice water to shock them. Drain the vegetables and pick out the fava beans. Remove their tough outer shell and add them back to the peas. Set aside.
For the pasta, bring a large pot of water with a dash of salt to a boil and cook the pasta until done (follow the instructions on the package). Once done, drain and return the pasta back to the pot. Scrape in all of the pesto and add the vegetables. Toss well and serve. Garnish with fresh herbs, black pepper, and sea salt if desired.
tips, tricks and other tidbits
Make sure the almonds are blanched! Whole or slivered are ok as you will be blending them up in the pesto. If the skins are on, they will make the texture rather undesirable (trust me, I've regrettably done it before). You could blanch the almonds yourself by boiling them in water with the skins on for 1 minute, removing them, and then peeling the skins off... but seriously? Just buy them blanched y'all.
Please note to zest the lemon before juicing. You won't be happy doing it the other way around. This recipe should only require one lemon unless you have the smallest lemons in the world.
The reason for shocking the vegetables in an ice bath is to stop them from cooking while also locking in their bright color. This method also gives a nice crunch to them as well, you'll see.
Fava beans are a bit of a pain but they are so worth it. If you are lucky enough to find frozen and peeled fava beans- great! But most likely, you'll only see them in their shells. To remove the edible part of the beans, open the pod and remove the beans. The outer shell is tough and is not desirable, in my opinion. After it has been cooked, you can rather easily remove this outer shell by piercing it delicately and then peeling. What you'll find inside is a bright green fava bean that is buttery and delicious!
Allergies! Because the pesto itself is gluten-free- you can absolutely use gluten free pasta to go all the way. If you want to make this soy free, use chickpea miso. To make this sugar free, use agave. To make nut free, use sunflower seeds (not sure it will be quite as good or pretty, but you get the idea...) or you can remove the nuts altogether. Ok, are y'all happy now!?
The pasta makes for a nice cold salad the next day, but I do prefer it hot if you decide to use orecchiette. If you do want to serve it as a cold salad, I would recommend using bowtie, rotini (spirals), or penne noodles, as the orecchiette tends to stick together. I actually don't mind this texture when it is served hot, but when served cold, it can be a bit overwhelming, so try the other varieties.