Basil-packed pesto is usually reserved for summertime, when the herb is plentiful. But you can actually make the sauce with any herb or green veggie you have on hand—like spring—ready fresh peas or mint. This particular pesto pasta salad is a great dish to make with kids: Your child will get a kick out of popping the peas out of their shells and watching the food processor transform them into a smooth, velvety sauce.
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas (about 1 1/2 pounds; or, use one 10 ounce bag of frozen peas)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup almonds, toasted
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 pound whole wheat pasta shells or elbows
Parent & Child: Follow the Cooking Class instructions for shelling peas.
Parent: Bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove peas from a saucepan and drain immediately. Place them into a bowl filled with ice water until cooled completely, about 1 to 2 minutes; drain.
Child:While peas are boiling, carefully pull the mint leaves off the stems. You’ll use the leaves to flavor your pesto, but you can discard or compost the stems.
Parent & Child: Place the cooled peas in a food processor along with the garlic, almonds, Parmesan cheese, mint, and salt. Process until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stop the processor and scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Drizzle in olive oil and lemon juice and process again until combined. Transfer to a bowl.
Parent: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
Parent & Child: Using a wooden spoon or large rubber spatula, toss the pasta with the pesto, slowing adding some of the reserved pasta water until the pesto has a sauce-like consistency and adheres to the pasta.
Child: Garnish the pasta with extra Parmesan cheese and mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serving: calories 477. fat 19g, protein 15 g, carbohydrates 65g. dietary fiber 10g