Bow Tie Pasta with Pea Pesto

Serves

The fresh flavors of spring come together in this luscious pea, pistachio and mint pesto, made creamy with the addition of fresh ricotta cheese and tossed with bow tie (farfalle) pasta.  Make sure you save some of the pasta cooking water, as it helps create a creamy sauce. As an added bonus, you can make the pesto up to 2 days ahead of serving time.

This recipe comes together quickly, but if you want a more substantial pasta meal, add diced ham or prosciutto. If you don't have pistachio nuts, blanched almonds or hazelnuts will work equally well.

Pistachio oil is a specialty store item; it's very delicious and very expensive, but a fun item for your pantry. If you haven't made the investment, you can substitute olive oil instead.


Ingredients

2 cups fresh peas (or Earthbound Farm Frozen Organic Green Peas, thawed, divided)
2/3 cup unsalted pistachios or blanched almonds or hazelnuts (divided)
1 small Earthbound Farm Organic Garlic
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
1/3 cup pistachio oil or extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
    grated zest of 1 lemon
    Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1 pound bow tie pasta (6 cups cooked)


Directions

If you're using fresh peas, bring a pan of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the peas for 90 seconds. Drain and plunge the peas into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

When the cooked peas are cool (or if you're using frozen peas, you can start here), drain the peas (again) and transfer 3/4 cup to a food processor. Reserve the remainder of the peas.

Add 1/3 cup of the nuts and the garlic to the peas in the food processor and process until the mixture is coarsely puréed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor at least once.

Add the ricotta cheese and 2 tablespoons of hot water to the food processor and process again until smooth. Add half of the Parmesan, oil, mint and lemon zest, and process until smooth. Season the pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Roughly chop the remaining pistachio nuts and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to package directions. Remove and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, then drain the pasta in a colander.

Return the pasta to the pot and add the pea pesto. Stir until the pasta is coated, adding some of the reserved pasta water as needed to create a creamy consistency. Stir in the reserved peas and divide the pasta among 6 warm plates. Sprinkle each serving with some of the chopped nuts and the reserved Parmesan. Serve immediately.

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