Not everyone would look in their fridge, see a languishing bag of spinach and some leftover bits of goat cheese, and immediately think, "Hmmm, pesto?"
We home cooks are special like that!
Whirred through the food processor and tossed with fresh peas, mushrooms, and campanelle pasta, this made a light and easy weeknight dish.
The pesto has an earthier, more subtle taste than it's basil counterpart, and we thought this paired especially well with the sweet peas. As a bonus, the goat cheese also gave the pesto creaminess without needing to add a lot of oil.
Click through for the full recipe!
Feel free to substitute just about any leafy green in for the spinach—arugula works particularly well. Baby or "grown up" spinach can also be used.
This pesto recipe makes more than you'll need for the pasta. We've been using the leftover pesto as a spread on sandwiches, as a sauce for meat dishes, and a number of other ways. We also threw a small container in the freezer and are hoping it freezes well.
Makes about 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces goat cheese
1 1/2 ounces whole-milk ricotta (or 3 ounces of either goat cheese or ricotta)
2 cloves garlic, peeled with root end trimmed off
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
10 to 12 ounces spinach, washed and spun dry
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the cheeses, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor and mix until combined. Add the spinach and run the food processor until the mixture has formed a thick paste. If the spinach won't fit all at once, add it in batches. Taste for seasonings, adding salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed.
Spinach Pesto Pasta with Fresh Peas and Mushrooms
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 pound campanelle pasta (or your pasta shape of choice!)
1/2 cup pasta water
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces of baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 cup hulled English peas or sugar snap peas (or frozen peas)
1/2 cup spinach pesto (more as needed)
grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top
Bring a large amount of water to a rapid boil, add a palm-full of salt, and cook the pasta to al dente. Before draining the pasta, scoop out about a half cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the mushrooms until they have released all their moisture and are golden brown—about five minutes. Add the hulled peas and toss until warmed through—about 30 seconds.
Add the pasta to the skillet and pour the pesto on top. Toss to combine everything. If the sauce is looking a little "loose" or you'd like it a bit creamier, add a splash (just a splash!) of the pasta water. Stir and add more pasta water if desired.
Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed.
Serve either warm or cold in individual bowls with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Related: Chard, Kale, Spinach: What to do with Hearty Greens
(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)