Anna Mintz is a Publicist for Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, and is an editor for The Recipe Club. Originally from Atlanta, she now lives in New York City and loves exploring NYC’s restaurant scene and trying out new recipes in her own kitchen.
A friend recently had Allison and me over for dinner in her Brooklyn apartment. She enticed us with promises of pasta, cheese, and wine — how could we resist such an offer!? Our friend Nora is a big fan of Ina Garten (who isn’t?), so she wanted to make the Pasta, Pesto, and Peas dish from Barefoot Contessa Parties! (Clarkson Potter, 2001). It sounded like a perfect plan, but when Allison and I arrived, we found our hostess in a bit of a panic — her food processor had completely conked out on her, and she needed it to make the pesto for the pasta.
The Recipe Club to the rescue! After confirming that the food processor had indeed broken, and had not just fallen prey to a faulty electrical outlet, we searched Nora’s cabinets and came up with a possible solution of using an immersion blender to create the pesto sauce. We weren’t completely positive it would work, but sure enough, after rough chopping the nuts and the basil, and adding enough liquid (olive oil and water), the sauce began to come together in a delicious way.
We deviated from the Barefoot Contessa recipe just a bit — adding walnuts and Parmesan directly into the pesto and foregoing the mayonnaise — but the sauce still came out nice and smooth. We served the pasta with some baby spinach leaves and green peas mixed in and a dollop of ricotta cheese on the top, and it was the perfect nutty, salty, creamy pasta dinner.
Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten
3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups homemade pesto
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 grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis, toasted (optional)
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 continue to puree.
Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta, then add the Parmesan cheese, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.