Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Creamy Pesto Shells with Peas and Cherry Tomatoes

At times the winter seems never ending.  The cold seeps into every nook and cranny.  Grey skyline blends with the grungy white horizon in a seamless canvas of nothing.  Spring will come.  It will...the days are already lengthening.

But at times I can feel that strong Midwestern resolve and hopefulness weaken.  Times such as that call for carbs and comfort.  And something bright and green.

Rooting through my freezer trying to come up with something quick and easy that wasn't ramen or spaghetti with tomato sauce, I stumbled across a few quart-sized bags of green bliss. Arugula pesto whirled up in those sweltering dry days of summer when the leafy bitterness was coming out of my ears.  Bite and bright and perfect for tonight...

pesto recipe courtesy of Driftless Organics
the rest is my own devising

serves 4

The Ingredients:
for the sauce
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 cup chopped arugula, lightly packed
1/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds, toasted
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste

for the pasta
1 lb small or medium shells
2 cup peas, thawed if previously frozen
1 pt cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

The Process:
Combine the garlic, arugula, almonds, and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse into a coarse paste. Add oil in a thin stream while the processor is going.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Boil the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Add the butter and milk to a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat.  Once the butter has melted, add the freshly made pesto and stir until well blended.  Cut in the cream cheese, a little at a time and stir until melted and well combined. 

Transfer the strained pasta to a serving bowl.  Add peas and tomatoes.  Drizzle with the creamy pesto and toss until well coated.  Serve hot.

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