Garden Pasta Pesto

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Once, when I was still living in the Netherlands, I had a small vegetable garden. Each year, I planted and grew rhubarb, beets, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and pod peas. But because a vegetable garden needs a lot of care and attention, which I did not always have, the harvest was less successful than hoped for. Upon arrival in the US, I decided to take a more realistic approach by creating a herb garden instead. That was a great decision, because herbs usually do not need the same kind of attention as vegetables do.

At the farmers market, I found these wonderful garlic scapes (see picture far below). Garlic scapes are the flower stalks of garlic plants, and can also be eaten. I also found fresh pod peas, and the sweet old lady who sold me the beautiful produce, advised to make a garlic scape pesto with fresh garden herbs. So that’s what I did: I created this pasta with walnut-herb pesto and fresh pod peas.

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Note: If you’re lucky enough to own a vegetable garden, you might have garlic scapes as well. If you cannot get hold of garlic scapes, you can make the pesto with garlic cloves instead.

Pasta with walnut pesto

Serves 4
Action Time: 25 minutes

14 oz/400 g peas in their pod (or 5 oz/150 g shelled pod peas)
12 oz/350 (whole wheat) spaghetti
For the pesto:
6 garlic scapes (or 2 garlic cloves)
1.75 oz/50 g walnuts, plus extra
1.75 oz/50 g freshly grated parmesan
a handful of basil leaves (a large handful if you don’t use garlic scapes), plus extra
a handful of oregano leaves, plus extra
about 3.5 fl oz/100 ml walnut oil or olive oil
lemon juice, to taste

Extra: food processor

1. First make the pesto. Break off the tough fibrous ends of the garlic scapes, the way you would with green asparagus. Cut in pieces, but do not use the flowers.

2. Pulse the garlic scapes together with the walnuts, cheese, and herbs in a food processor. Gradually pour in the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Bring to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

3. Shell the peas. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan with boiling salted water until al dente. Add the peas the last 4-5 minutes of the cooking time (fresh peas usually need to cook a little longer than frozen peas).

4. Drain, reserving some cooking liquid, and toss the pasta in a bowl with several tablespoons of the pesto (what you do not use, you can keep in the fridge or freezer). Add a little of the cooking liquid if the pasta is too dry. Divide among plates and garnish with fresh herbs. Scatter over some walnuts, and grind over some black pepper. Serve immediately.

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