This recipe is from Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals show on the Food Network. And believe it or not, it really did only take 30 minutes to make! :) I used basil from my garden to make the pesto. I also thawed some frozen grilled chicken I had in the freezer and tossed that in to make it a complete one dish meal. It was a great light dinner for a warm summer night. Both Kevin and I thought this was very tasty and we'll definitely be having this again. Next time I will do some prep ahead, though, to make it an even faster meal on a work night... mainly just have homemade pesto on hand or make it the night before. Then I can just put the pot of water on to boil and get some things accomplished rather than making the pesto while the pasta cooks. Also, it made a huge batch - an entire pound of pasta - so we have a couple lunches built right in. I love meals that do double duty.
Penne with Spring Pea-sto
1 pound whole-wheat penne pasta (for once I didn't have whole wheat penne on hand, so I just used normal penne)
1 package frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1 cup packed basil leaves
6 to 8 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves stripped (I left this out and put in a few more leaves of basil since I didn't grow tarragon in my garden)
1 teaspoon lemon zest (I also left this out b/c I didn't have any lemons)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, a couple of handfuls, plus more for serving (freshly grated was awesome, but the Kraft stuff would work, too)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water up to a boil then season water with salt and cook penne to al dente. Heads up: you will need to reserve 1 or 2 ladles of starchy cooking water, 1/2 to 3/4 cup, before draining the pasta.
Place 1/2 of the peas in the bottom of a large serving dish. Place the rest of the peas in a food processor with the pine nuts, basil, tarragon leaves, lemon zest, cheese and olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper then process the pesto into rough paste, adjust seasonings.
Pour starchy water over peas in bowl then add pesto. Pour hot, drained pasta over the pesto and toss vigorously to coat and combine. Adjust seasoning and serve, passing extra cheese at the table.