Although I don’t enjoy getting my hands full of dirt, I love grabbing kitchen shears and heading to my husband’s organic herb garden. Just last week, I looked for some fresh basil so that I could make traditional basil pesto, but harvested bunches of parsley and cilantro instead. By adding edamame to my novelty pesto sauce, I created this aromatic and exotic pasta dish.
Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes (for pesto); 8 to 10 minutes (for cooking pasta & edamame)
Makes: 1 to 2 cups Cilantro Pesto
Serves: 4 to 6
For the Cilantro Pesto:
2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed
2 cups lightly packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and hearts removed
1½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole, natural almonds (skin on)
½ cup extra virgin olive
½ cup vegetable oil
1. Measure cilantro and parsley leaves; set aside.
2. In a food processor, grind the garlic and the salt.
3. Add cilantro and parsley leaves and process until finely chopped.
4. Add the almonds and grind.
5. Combine both oils in a measuring cup and, with motor running on low speed, pour the oils in a slow, steady stream until a paste or “pesto” forms.
6. Transfer the pesto to a glass jar and gently spoon extra vegetable oil on top to seal (this prevents blackening). Cover with a tightly fitting lid and refrigerate.
For the Pasta:
1 pound penne pasta (or other short variety)
¾ to 1 teaspoon salt
1 to 1½ cups frozen edamame
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (optional)
1. In a 5-quart saucepot, bring 3½ cups water to a boil. Add the pasta and salt; cook on medium-high, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. After 8 minutes, add frozen edamame to the pasta during the last minute or two of cooking.
3. Meanwhile, spoon 2/3 cup Cilantro Pesto into a large glass or porcelain serving bowl; set aside.
4. When pasta and edamame are cooked and drained, toss them immediately with the pesto in bowl. Taste and adjust salt and extra virgin olive oil level. For a creamier consistency, add 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream.
5. Serve in individual bowls. If desired, sprinkle lightly with Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese – too much cheese will conflict with the distinct aroma and flavor of cilantro.
Wine pairing: Chilled Pinot Grigio (white) or Bordeaux (red).
Notes: If a stronger cilantro flavor is desired, change the amounts of cilantro and parsley – use 2½ cups cilantro and 1½ cups parsley leaves.
Each time pesto is taken out of the jar, be sure to add a thin layer of vegetable oil to remaining pesto in jar. Seal the jar and refrigerate up to 3 weeks.
Text and Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real