Long days and outdoor picnics call for an easy pasta recipe that everyone will enjoy. This dish is easy, healthy and very elegant.
In the height of summer, I love to make fresh pesto from the garden, but during the rest of the year, I cheat a little with my favorite store-bought brand. Having a nice dollop of the verdant sauce on anything from homemade pizza or smeared onto a sandwich, it's the brightness and intensity of flavor that I crave! Pesto and pasta however, shine as companions above all other iterations. Don't you agree?This simple recipe came together on a summer morning when scrounging around my fridge looking for something substantial that I could take to an afternoon picnic in the park. It's a great pasta dish because it doesn't really need refrigeration (it should be fine out for a few hours, unlike something with mayo or perishable eggs) and it tastes great room temperature or cold. It's the quintessential al fresco dish, full of bright bold notes — from the squeeze of the lemon, nuttiness of the pasta, toasty almond chunks and subtle toothsome bite of edamame. A bowl of this pasta, washed down with a glass of white wine or lemondade is just the thing to usher in summer parties outside.
Pesto Pasta with Lemon, Spinach, Edamame & Toasted Almonds
Serves 4 to 6
8 ounces spaghetti
1/2 cup pesto
8 ounces spinach
2 cups edamame (shelled and shucked, the peas, not entire pods)
juice from 2 lemons (plus fresh lemon wedges for serving)
3/4 cup almonds, crushed and lightly toasted
Heat a large pot of water to boiling, cook pasta until al dente. Remove from water, strain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, stir pasta, pesto and spinach until combined (some spinach will wilt, some will stay firm — this is a nice contrast of textures). Finally, stir in the edamame and squirt the lemon all over the finished dish. Reserve a few lemon slices for people to add more if they like. On a low heat, toast crushed almonds until just fragrant. Garnish pasta with the toasted almonds.
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Related: Seasonal Recipe: Springtime Pasta
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)