Longer 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 to sandwiches — 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 an early summer morning when scrounging around my fridge, looking for something substantial 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.
This is 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 lemonade, 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, store-bought or homemade
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, and cook pasta until al dente. Strain and rinse with cold water.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta, pesto, and spinach, and stir until evenly mixed (some spinach will wilt, some will stay firm — this is a nice contrast of textures). Finally, stir in the edamame and squeeze 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.
This recipe was originally published May 2011.
(Image credits: Leela Cyd)