The other night I wanted to make a pasta dish that was full of early summer flavors—peas, pesto, new potatoes, herbs, — and also meatless (so no pancetta or bacon like I might usually add for flavor).
Nichole—our Minnesotan cousin who is doing an apprenticeship at Stone Barns (how dreamy is that!)—had also brought some garlic scapes from the farm so I wanted to use those too, as well as the remains of a container of salty feta and some arugula that was in the fridge.
I decided to make a mighty green “everything” pasta that would use all of these green summer ingredients, bound together in a basil/garlic scape/toasted almond pesto…
Almond & Garlic Scape Pesto
While the pasta water boiled I made the pesto: in a food processor I added a handful of whole almonds that I’d lightly toasted in a skillet, a bunch of basil leaves, zest of one lemon (and juicing the lemon itself to use later), salt, pepper, and one chopped garlic scape. I processed all of this until the almonds were ground up and then slowly drizzled in about 3/4 cup of olive oil until it was a thick but not too thin pesto sauce. I poured the pesto into a bowl and stirred in some grated parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup worth). Set this aside.
Pasta with peas, potatoes, arugula and feta
Scrub and halve about 12 (a small sac worth) of small new or red potatoes. Add to a large pot of salted cold water and then bring it to a boil, lower to an active simmer and cook until you can easily pierce potatoes with the tip of a knife but they’re not falling apart. Remove potatoes from water with a large serrated spoon or spider (you will need the water to cook the pasta), place them in a bowl, drizzle with some champagne or white wine vinegar, and put aside.
You will now add 1 lb of pasta to the potato cooking water. If it has become reduced you can add more so there’s enough to boil your pasta. Add 1lb pasta (I used cavatelli but you can use penne or cavatappi or some such shape) and cook per instructions until al dente (it is going to cook a bit more in the skillet so it should be slightly undercooked when you drain it) making sure to reserve a big cup of the very starchy cooking water for the sauce.
While the pasta is cooking melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet, cook over medium heat and let it brown a bit before adding fresh shelled peas (I used about 2 cups). Saute the peas for about a minute and then add a tablespoon of white miso paste and a 1/4 cup of water. Stir in the miso (the miso is optional, but it adds a nice flavor) and then top the skillet with a lid to steam the peas until tender, this will only take a couple of minutes, better that they are closer to raw than overcooked. Remove lid and add cooked potatoes, cooked pasta, half of the pesto sauce, and toss all of this in the skillet to combine. Add a splash of the pasta cooking water to make it a bit saucier, if you like. Add crumbled feta cheese (about a cup), freshly ground pepper, juice from half the lemon, and more pesto if you think it needs it, and toss one more time. Put pasta in a large bowl to serve.If you have some arugula you can put a handful on top of each individual bowl of pasta so that it gets a little bit wilted when mixed with the pasta but still stays fresh and crisp. If someone at the table feels the need for a little meat you can always layer some thinly sliced pieces of prosciutto on top or sliced poached/grilled/rotisserie chicken with a little extra pesto drizzled on top. This is also a great dish to bring to a party since it tastes just as good at room temperature as it does hot.