Pesto comes in many forms... from the classic basil genovese to a variety of spreads that highlight different herbs, greens, nuts, and/or cheeses. While some traditionalists may have trouble calling these varying spreads pestos, I take "the more the merrier" approach. There are just so many wonderful combinations that can be made. Though many highlight a particular herb (parsley, cilantro, basil, etc) or a combination of two or more herbs, the pesto pasta featured here takes in an entire salad!
The idea for this particular pasta was piqued by thoughts of a favored salad I make from Ina Garten's 2006 cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa At Home. Her recipe is a super simple spinach salad that gets turned a bit with some prepared pesto, defrosted frozen peas, shaved parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts. It's insane how simple and delicious it is. So, why not convert that Pesto Pea Salad to a main pasta dish?
The "pesto" part of this pasta comes together super quick with the help of a food processor. A good heap of fresh spinach gets a spin to break down a bit and make room for the addition of defrosted frozen peas, fresh parsley and basil, toasted pine nuts, some freshly squeezed lemon juice, kosher salt, and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The addition of fresh lemon really helps brighten and enliven the flavor of this spinach-laden "pesto" and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a few fresh (or defrosted frozen) peas lend a pretty (and tasty) garnish.
The end result is a quick and delicious, super-good-for-you pesto that beautifully laces the more robust threads of al dente bucatini pasta.