From Too Many Chefs -

March 21, 2006
March's Favorite - Winter and Spring Pasta

Spring is here! How do I know? The snow is slowing down, and construction is ramping up here in Chicago.

Chicago doesn't feel very spring-like in late March, but this bright green pasta dish might help bring springtime to your house. In its simplest form, this is a creamy wintery comfort food, like the first weeks of March. Add a bit more lemon and a dab of wasabi and you'll have a late March Spring in your step and on your fork.

I suppose you could get drunk on green beer halfway through making this recipe to mark St. Patrick's Day, but that's probably not recommended.

This was an improvisation inspired by a pea pesto pasta recipe I saw bits of this weekend on PBS. I didn't really pay attention, but I saw the end result which used cheese, and thought I might be able to do a healthier version using a high protein bean like soy beans (under their more marketing friendly name of edamame, of course).

This improvisation was fast, delicious, and may become a staple around our house.

March's Favorite - Winter and Spring Pasta
2 cups shelled, blanched edamame (soy beans)
1 cup slivered almonds
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup plus some olive oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup water
juice of one lemon (or more, see instructions)

Handful of pasta (about 8 oz, linguine preferred)

If your soybeans are frozen, let them thaw.

Combine almonds, edamame, 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup water, mint, garlic, and lemon in a food processor and process until uniform and bright green. Salt and pepper to taste. You may need to add a little more olive oil to loosen it up and let it be blended smoothly.

The consistency should be about that of thick hummus. If you wish to serve as a dip, stop here and break out the pita chips.

If you want to make it a pasta sauce, boil a large pot of salted water. Add the noodles, and cook until al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain the noodles.

Return the noodles to the same pot. Add about a cup of edamame pesto and stir over low heat. Add the pasta water slowly to smooth out the sauce. If you make the sauce too watery, add more edamame pesto until you coat the noodles with a creamy sauce.

Stir in any extra mint and cilantro you wish for presentation's sake and serve in bowls.

Adding 1 more lemon will change the mild creamy character of the dish to a brighter spring-like pasta. A touch of wasabi would make that even more pronounced. Those simple changes make two very different tasting dishes out of this recipe.

Either one will provide a high-protein, healthy main course to a vegetarian meal. And I forgot about the dip vairant. Hey, that's three recipes for the price of one.

Dang, I'm good.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at March 21, 2006 6:38 AM

Yep, only saw a few snowflakes on the windshield in the 'burbs this morning. So this sounds good, cheese? Not even a little teensy bit? I thought sure it was a variation of Alfredo. If only I could be satisfied with soy in place of all creams and cheeses in my diet!

Posted by Monica on March 21, 2006 at 4:45 PM

Not only no cheese, but no dairy. It's not an alfredo, though the protein from the soybeans and the fat from the almonds and olive oil make it feel like it is in the mouth.

I havn't calculated it our, but it should push the same buttons as fattier creamy pasta sauces while being much healthier

Posted by barrett on March 21, 2006 at 5:27 PM

This looks like a variation on Cooking Light's Soba with Herbed Edamame Sauce. It is very good! While we are having a virtuous St. Patrick's meal, enjoy some green tea! Mmm...

Posted by pumpkinpie on March 24, 2006 at 11:55 PM

I am looking for a recipe I saw in the USA Weekend "magazine" in our local paper. It contained Italian sausage, tomatoes, tomato paste, pasta and I don't remember the rest. Where do you think I can find this recipe? Thank you.

Posted by Lorraine on April 9, 2006 at 5:44 PM

Lorraine, you could try searching the USA weekend recipe database:

Posted by Meg on April 12, 2006 at 3:53 AM