Woke up one morning last week and realized I had nothing ready to take for lunch today. What to do? I had plenty of food that needed to be cooked/prepped/baked, but nothing prepared. I didn’t want to spend the money and eat out, so I chose the quickest option: pasta.
What comes to mind when you think of pasta? Boring? Heavy? Red sauce? This recipe is none of those. I started my early morning cooking session by going out to my front yard and grabbing as much sweet basil as was ready to be harvested, along with some thyme sprigs, amethyst basil, and African basil for a salad. As a passed through the kitchen, I put some water on to boil for my spelt pasta.
From the window boxes on my back deck, I plucked young watercress and arugula. Also a stalk of chives, with the flower still attached.
Back in the kitchen, I hauled out the food processor. In the mini-bowl, I combined basil, garlic, salt, Parmesan, and olive oil. (You can add toasted almonds or pine nuts, but I didn’t feel like messing around with toasting, plus I didn’t want a thick pesto). In seconds I had a slightly runny pesto that is perfect for pasta. It tasted nice and earthy, like a liquid-y version of fresh basil.
The water was boiling, so I added the spelt pasta. It cooks up in 5 minutes — even faster than other varieties! While it cooked, I built my salad. Oh, it was beautiful. Spicy arugula, mild watercress, basil, thyme, and chives. I didn’t want to taint it with dressing, so I skipped that part. On the side, I added chickpeas that I had recently cooked up.
I left a couple tablespoons of the pasta water in with my spelt spaghetti to make it more saucy. Added to it the pesto, some extra Parmesan, some frozen peas, and a squeeze of lemon. Done! Lunch was prepared in 20 minutes. (Yes, I was still a bit late to work, but it was worth it to save money by not buying a lunch, and eat a healthy, filling meal).
Just wanted to inspire you with what might growing in your yard or your local farm, and what’s hiding in your cabinets. Use your imagination, and mix all those fresh ingredients together for something truly tasty!
Pesto Pasta with Peas
All measurements are estimates
1 1/2 inch round of dried spelt spaghetti, cooked to al dente (about 1 cup when cooked)
Cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of pasta water, and set aside.
1 cup loosely packed sweet basil
1 large clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Parmesan, shredded
3 tablespoons olive oil
Process in food processor, or in a blender. Add to pasta.
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup frozen peas
extra Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Add to pasta. The peas will thaw in a couple hours, ready for you to eat.
All measurements are estimates
1/4 cup arugula
1/4 cup watercress
2 tablespoons African basil
a few leaves of Amethyst basil
2-3 sprigs time
1 sprig chives, with flower attached
1/4 cup cooked chickpeas, on the side or mixed in
Ok, I admit — you may not have access to all of these fresh herbs at once. If that’s the case, then choose your favorite and mix it in with fresh arugula and salad greens. It will still taste great. I ate this salad without dressing, but if you want you can mix up a white wine vinaigrette: 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, salt to taste, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add to jar, screw on the lid, and shake, shake, shake.
Other posts you may enjoy:
Remembering Last Summer Pesto Pasta