Mafaldine with Pea Shoot—Meyer Lemon Pesto

Description :

Fresh pea shoots, parsley, and dill make a verdant pesto balanced with salty ricotta salata cheese and nutty roasted sunflower seed kernels. The bright sauce clings beautifully to ruffled mafaldine pasta, and any textured pasta shape will work well.

Ingredient :

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated Meyer lemon zest plus 1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 1 large lemon or 2 medium lemons), divided

  • 4 cups loosely packed fresh pea shoots, plus more for garnish, if desired

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh dill fronds

  • 2 ounces ricotta salata, grated (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 cup salted roasted sunflower seed kernels

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 16 ounces uncooked mafaldine pasta

  • 1 ounce pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Direction :

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Using a Microplane grater, finely grate 1 garlic clove to yield about 1/2 teaspoon garlic. Finely chop remaining garlic clove, and set aside. Add grated garlic to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add breadcrumbs; cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, and set aside.

  2. Combine pea shoots, parsley, dill, ricotta salata, sunflower seed kernels, lemon juice, reserved chopped garlic, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest in a blender. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped, 12 to 15 pulses. With blender running, add remaining 1/2 cup oil to mixture in a thin stream, and continue processing until smooth and emulsified, about 2 minutes. Stir in crushed red pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

  4. Return pasta to a large pot; add pea shoot pesto, pecorino Romano, butter, and 2/3 cup reserved cooking liquid, stirring until butter is melted and pasta is nicely coated, adding remaining 1/3 cup cooking liquid if needed to loosen sauce. Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumb mixture. If desired, garnish with additional pea shoots.

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