Local Producers: HerbCo Organics
When I asked co-owner and chef Craig Bashel to come up with a summer recipe using fresh herbs for today’s blog, I thought for sure that he’d pick basil, that go-to summer flavor. But he surprised me with a pasta recipe using fresh mint and Italian parsley. Although, come to think of it, mint is a close relative of basil and sometimes they can be interchangeable in recipes.
Basil is a hugely important ingredient in so many dishes including marinara, the ‘mother’ sauce of Italian cooking, and of course it’s the star in pesto. And it pops us everywhere on the menu, from Caprese salad to tomatoes for the bruschetta to a garnish for pastas like Cavatappi Primavera and Spaghetti con Gamberetti. We sprinkle fresh herbs in our sautéed vegetables and even make drinks with them! The kitchen makes rosemary syrup for our Blood Orange-Rosemary Soda and we muddle fresh basil in our Strawberry Basil Lemonade. As savvy cooks have known for thousands of years, the pungent flavors and aromas of herbs help other ingredients to sing.
Our partnership with Herbco has really enhanced the food we make, and writing about it for the blog really brought home to me the importance of fresh herbs in the Pastini kitchens. Probably the only products we use more of than herbs are pasta, of course, olive oil and garlic.
It is also great to know that all our herbs are certified organic.
Gemelli with Pea & Mint Pesto is delicious as a summer side dish, or you could make it into a main course with the addition of chicken, whole peas and roasted peppers...or whatever appeals to you. And, since it’s easy on the garlic, I think kids will enjoy it too. Added bonus: it is a lovely green, very pretty on the plate.
Gemelli Pasta with Pea & Mint Pesto
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 10 ounce package frozen peas (the food purists can shell their own peas)
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- 3 TBSP pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup Ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound gemelli pasta
- Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil for the peas.
- Prepare an ice water bath to cool the peas after cooking.
- When the pot of water is boiling, add the peas and cook about 4 minutes.
- Drain the peas and add to the ice water.
- When the ice has melted, drain the peas and pat dry with a paper towel if necessary.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- As the pasta water comes to a boil, place the cooked peas, parsley, mint, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor bowl.
- Process the ingredients until smooth scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- With the machine running, add the olive oil and then the water and mix until smooth.
- Scrape the pesto into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.
- Mix until all ingredients are well mixed. Taste and add more salt in desired.
- Set aside until pasta is cooked.
- Add the gemelli to the pot of boiling water and cook according to package instructions.
- Lightly drain the pasta and immediately add to the bowl of prepared pesto. You want the pasta to still be somewhat wet.
- Mix the pasta and pesto in the bowl until the pasta is completely covered with pesto.
- Serve immediately. Top with extra parmesan cheese if desired.
If you want to make this into an entree pasta, serve it with salad and a fresh baguette for a great summer meal.
Bon appetito and enjoy your summer!