Disclosure: my husband prepared this pasta with mint-basil pesto and peas. It is inspired by Massimo Bottura’s “Mint-basil pesto”. Bottura is all about being creative in the kitchen, so if you’re missing a few of the essential ingredients for a classic pesto recipe, just think outside the box. Not enough basil? No problem, add some mint. No pine nuts? No problem. Use breadcrumbs instead. The mint gives a subtle extra flavor to the pesto, it’s not too powerful (which I like), and the breadcrumbs give the texture to the pesto. A very clever idea.
An added bonus of this mint-basil pesto is that it is nut-free which is great for those of you who are allergic to nuts. Plus, it can go into those lunch boxes (once schools resume, of course, eventually, maybe….) for those kids in a school with a nut-free policy.
Pesto keeps very well refrigerated so you can prepare it in advance whenever you have a few minutes to spare and keep it in the fridge ready to use. Then you will have a great dish just with the time that takes to cook the pasta, which is basically 10 minutes.
Italians have a type of pasta for each sauce. Depending of the shape of the pasta it will hold better one sauce or another. Pesto is to be served with short twisted pasta such as rotini, fusilli or cavatappi because the oil and herbs hold well into the groves of the twisted pasta.
This pasta with mint-basil pesto and peas is really easy to put together:
1. Prepare the pesto: put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix.
2. Boil the pasta. Add the peas 3 min before the end of the cooking process.
3. Drain the pasta and mix the pesto.
4. Serve and enjoy!
As with all the pasta dishes, you can use any type of pasta you like. So feel free to use whole wheat past for a “healthier” version, or quinoa or chickpeas if you’re in a gluten-free diet (but be careful that the pesto contains breadcrumbs!! You will have to adjust that too: either with gluten-free breadcrumbs or use the classic pine nuts if you will).
But regardless of the type of pasta you use, I can assure you this dish will not disappoint!
An easy yet a bit different pasta with pesto, quick to put together and delicious your way!
1 lb short pasta (I used rotini)
1 cup frozen peas
For the mint-basil pesto:
1 cup basil (firmly pressed)
¼ cup mint (firmly pressed)
2 tbsp bread crumbs
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1–2 tbs water
Pinch of sugar *
Lemon juice (just a few drops) *
Make the pesto: put all the ingredients except the sugar and lemon juice in a food processor or hand blender and mix until you reach a smooth consistency. Reserve the stems of the basil and mint. Taste the pesto and make any adjustments you feel it might need. * Sugar and lemon juice will help to balance the flavors (you might not need them at all).
Bring a big pot of water with salt with the stems of the basil and mint to a boil. Remove the stems right before adding the pasta.
Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
Add the peas to the cooking pasta 3 minutes before boiling time ends.
Drain the pasta with the peas and mix the pesto in.