Pasta with Almond Sauce and Peas
It’s getting to that point in Spring time where I no longer desire the hardy tomato-laden pastas of winter, but instead want something light. When I saw this recipe in this month’s Gourmet I knew I wanted a piece of it. What caught my eye with this recipe is that the sauce is actually pureed almonds instead of cream-based. The almonds have enough natural fats in them that they leave the dish with a creamy consistency.
This would be a fantastic pasta dish on a picnic, but Betsy and I had it as our main course and I took leftovers to work. It was great warm and cold. For the amount that it makes, it is very economical.
Pasta with Almond Sauce and Peas
Yield: Serves 4-6.
1 pound small tubular pasta like elbow macaroni
1 Cup almonds, divided
3 cloves garlic
3/4 Cup water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter
1 10-ounce package frozen peas
1/2 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 Cup basil, roughly chopped
1/3 Cup mint, roughly chopped
1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well ( 1 tablespoon kosher salt per gallon). Add 3/4 cup of almonds to the water and boil for 3 minutes. Remove, drain, and let the almonds cool slightly. Then you can easily remove the skins.
2) Add the blanched almonds to a food processor with garlic, water, and a pinch of salt. Puree until smooth.
3) Melt 1 tablespoon butter and oil in a large skillet or high-walled pan. Add your almond puree to this and let it simmer on medium-low heat.
4) Cook pasta according to package.
5) Once pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce. Add peas, cheese, lemon juice, and more butter. The pasta is done when the peas are warm.
6) Top each serving of the pasta with additional almonds, mint, and basil.
Serve immediately and also great for leftovers.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine April 2009.
First thing we need to do is prep our almonds. Get a large pot of boiling, salted water going. I used the same pot to cook my pasta so make sure there is plenty of water. Once it is boiling dunk in 3/4 Cup of almonds for about 3 minutes. When they come out and cool a bit, you can literally slide the center part of the almond away from the skin just by pressing lightly.
You want to remove all the skins from them.
Then put your blanched almonds in a food processor with the garlic, water, and a pinch of salt. Puree this until it is very smooth. Add more water if necessary.
Meanwhile, melt 1 Tablespoon of your butter and oil in a large pan. The pan needs to be large enough to hold all of your ingredients eventually. Add your almond puree to this and let it start to simmer away.
While this is simmering, cook your pasta. I used the exact same water that I used for my almonds which gave a tiny hint of almond to the pasta. If your sauce gets too thick while your pasta cooks, just add a bit more water.
Once your pasta is cooked and your sauce is thickened (the sauce will probably take only 3 minutes to thicken), add the drained pasta to the sauce. Throw in the peas, cheese, lemon juice, and 2 more Tablespoons of butter at this point. It’s done when your peas are heated through.
The other part of this dish is the last minute additions. This includes more almonds (roasted if you want) and fresh mint and basil.
Mix these guys in right before you are ready to serve. They give the dish some different texture and a huge amount of fresh herb flavor.
Like I said, Betsy and I had this quite happily for a few days. I may even venture to say that it was better on day two.
It’s quick, cheap, healthy, and filling. What more could you want in a dish? (If the answer to this question, for you, is bacon then feel free to add some.)