June 12, 2008

Be Elegant, Be Earthy

Ina Garten is known for her simple, but sophisticated approach to food. Many also know her as the Barefoot Contessa, a moniker she earned from the Hampton's specialty store by the same name, which she used to own.

One of the reasons I admire Ina's cooking is that she always starts with good ingredients. I recently came across a group of other zealous Ina fans, where every two weeks members make the same recipe and post their results on the same day. The group, called Barefoot Bloggers, is currently about 70-members strong.

The first recipe for June is Pasta, Pesto and Peas. This was a super easy recipe and I could definitely see making this as a side dish for a summer barbecue. I made two substitutions: swapped the frozen spinach for frozen since I got a supply in my weekly CSA harvest box, and I used all fusilli pasta instead of a combo. As a superfan of all things basil, I thought the overall flavor was tasty. However, I could easily have done with about half the mayonnaise, as I am not so much a fan. It was just way too creamy for me, but cutting down the mayo is an easy enough modification.
Pasta, Pesto and Peas
3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups


Prudy said...

Yum! Great work-the pasta lookw superb.

BMK said...

Looks good! Love your presentation of the dish. Very cute.

bethanyjg said...

Beautiful photos!

Rebecca said...

So pretty! This looks delicious.

Melissa said...

Love that bowl!!!

Anonymous said...

great job on the PP&P! i just adore that bowl! i agree - the mayo definitely needed to be cut down.

Heather said...

yum! Your pasta looks delicious!

Debinhawaii said...

Great pictures--it turned out well! Cutting the mayo really helps I think.

scrappysue said...

this looks delish! i might have to give it a go :)