This springtime take on a pesto alla Genovese is a beautiful compliment to all of your favourite springtime green vegetables. For this recipe we've opted for broad beans and finished the dish with shaved almonds to add some crunch. We highly reccomend making extra of both the pesto and even finished pasta dish as it's just as delicious as a room temperature pasta salad as it is served straight from the pot and individual portions of pesto will keep fantastically well in small jars in the freezer.
Preparation time 40 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Serves 2-3 people
INGREDIENTS 250g Pennette Rigate (any short pasta will do) 40g Parmeggiano Reggiano 300g broad beans Large handful of mint 40g shaved almonds 1 stalk of green garlic Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
EQUIPMENT Chopping board and knife Medium sized pot Pestle and mortar, food processor or blender Rubber spatula or wooden spoon Strainer, sieve or colander Baking tray lined with baking paper Mixing bowl
1. Begin by removing the outer shell rom the broad beans using your fingers to spread the pod and remove the beans. While you are doing this, bring a medium sized pot of water up to the boil over high heat and prepare a container with some ice water. Once all the beans have been shucked, drop them gently into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. To check if the beans are cooked, remove one from the pot, gently pierce the skin of the shell to expose the bean inside and taste it for doneness. If the broad bean is bright green and tender, then it is cooked. Strain the beans and dunk into the ice water to stop the cooking process. After 5 minutes in the ice water, strain the broad beans once again and remove the skins from each bean and place into a container and reserve in the fridge.
If you don’t have ice, place them in a container and cover them with a strainer and allow cold water from your sink to run over them, the strainer is there to prevent the beans from escaping.
2. To toast the shaved almonds, line a baking tray with baking paper and preheat an oven to 160C. Season the nuts with a few drops of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Lay the nuts out onto the tray and place into the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. The pesto can be made using a number of kitchen tools, the most rustic and arguably the one that produces the best quality pesto is the pestle and mortar, this however is one of the most labour intensive methods becomes tiresome for larger batches. While this recipe is designed for 2-3 people, I would highly recommend making larger batches and freezing portions of pesto. For larger batches we turn to the food processor or blender to make our lives easier. If you have none of the above the pasta will still be delicious if you simply finely chop all the ingredients to make the sauce and season the pasta with your “chopped sauce”. Regardless it helps to chop your ingredients finely beforehand anyway to help them break down while making the sauce.
4. Begin by adding the finely chopped spring garlic, half of the almonds and a pinch of salt to your pestle and mortar or blender and either pulse or pound until smooth. To this add the mint and break down until incorporated. Season well with pepper and a sprinkling more salt and add a few drops of olive oil at a time to loosen up the sauce while mixing. Add half the parmesan, finely grated, and work in until incorporated. Stream in more olive oil slowly until the consistency of pesto is achieved. You want it to be thick but to be loose enough to flow off a spoon lightly.
5 Half fill a medium sized pot with water and place over high heat until the water comes to a boil. Add enough salt until the water tastes salty, not quite as salty as the sea, but close! Allow the salt to dissolve and add the pasta. Gently stir to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick together and cook for 9 minutes or until the pasta is almost cooked.
6 Strain the pasta and reserve some of the water the pasta was cooked in. Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and add the pesto. Stir to coat the pasta and add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water to loosen up the sauce and a light drizzling of olive oil. Mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the pasta is nicely coated. Add a sprinkling of the shaved almonds, several twists of freshly ground black pepper and all the broad beans. Fold to coat the pasta completely and serve with the remainder of the shaved almonds and freshly grated parmesan.