April 4, 2009

Pasta in Garlic-Almond Sauce

Gourmet, April 2009

This seemed like a perfect spring pasta dish. We had it on the first evening warm enough to eat dinner on our balcony, and the basil and mint were so good-- the mint didn't make it taste terribly minty, just made it seem very green and fresh.

3/4 C whole blanched almonds (4 oz.)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 C water
1 lb. cavatappi or other small tubular pasta
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 T unsalted butter
1 10-oz. package frozen peas
1/2 C grated parmesan
1 T lemon juice
1/2 C basil leaves, torn
1/3 C mint leaves, torn
1/3 C chopped roasted almonds (I used slivered that I had in a package)

Puree blanched almonds, garlic, and water with 1/4 t salt in a blender until smooth.

Cook pasta until almost al dente. Reserve 3 C pasta cooking water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat oil and 1 T butter in a 12-in. heavy skillet (preferably straight-sided) over medium heat until foam subsides. Add almond puree and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add 2 1/2 C reserved cooking water, 1/4 t salt, and 1/2 t pepper and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 T butter until melted. Add pasta and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente (sauce will be thin), 2 to 3 minutes. Add cheese and lemon juice and stir until combined well. Remove from heat and stir in half of basil and mint and salt and pepper to taste. Serve pasta in bowls topped with chopped almonds, remaining herbs, and additional cheese.

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