Oh-so-simple Peas and Pesto Pasta (Five ingredients!)

Cooked up on November 30, 2011

Filed under: dinner, fall, frugal, pantry, six ingredients or less, vegetarian

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So, yesterday basically two things happened. I got home from my new job (which is rad, by the way) and realized that we had zero food in the house except the CSA that arrived on our door that afternoon, and after going to the store and rectifying that situation, I decided to make tacos. Because that’s what you do when you have a ton of new groceries, right? Or at least, when it’s your first night back from an almost-week away.

Anywho, today I actually was thinking about the things I bought, and I made an awesome couscous recipe for tomorrow’s lunch, and this tasty little number for our dinner tonight:

Sometimes a little starchy pasta loving is all you need.

Here’s what you need to make a delicious and simple pasta dinner for two:

  • Fettuccine for two*
  • About 1 cup frozen peas
  • Half a large white onion, diced
  • Two large tablespoons of pesto
  • Pasta water (DON’T THROW IT OUT!)
  • Additional miscellany: garlic, salt, pepper, oil

*A note on pasta and serving measurements: I don’t follow them.** I realize that a big problem with American eating habits is portion size, but the pastas Dave and I cook usually are a) vegetarian, and meat is a huge source of calories and b) mostly cheeseless and creamless, another huge source of calories. I do not advocate using carbs to fill up if you’re trying to eat less meat/veggie/vegan for weight-loss dieting (it won’t work), however, if you are working out on a regular basis and happy with your weight, you will need an at least 400 calorie dinner such as this one (rough estimate) if you are going to function and not starve to death by 9 p.m. (scientific research, clearly). And ergo, I add more pasta.

** A second note on pasta and serving measurements: I do follow them for lunch entrees. Just not dinner.

*** Hm. Serving sizes. I shall write about this later.

So about that pasta. Cook about 2.5 servings of fettuccine as directed and save the pasta water. If you’ve salted the water properly, the noodles should be fine hanging out in the warm water while you do the rest.

Soften your white onion and a few cloves of garlic in olive oil, and once they are softened, add your frozen peas and give them a few minutes to thaw. Once they’ve thawed, turn the heat down just a little – about medium-low is fine.

Using tongs, place your fettuccine noodles in the skillet with the peas and onions, and add the pesto on top of them. Carefully spoon 4-5 tablespoons of the starchy pasta water into the mix as well, and gently toss to coat with your tongs. I also added about 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, because I had the last of a bunch I purchased last week and were surprisingly crisp.

You can also play with this dish easily – here are some ways you can spice it up. I was actually planning on adding tomatoes… and forgot. Whoops.

  • Add half a roasted chicken breast (and halve the pasta serving)
  • Add a seared salmon steak (same goes here)
  • Add a handful of shrimp
  • Toss in halved cherry tomatoes at the end
  • Sprinkle with goat cheese or feta (also at the end)
  • Instead of pesto, use chopped dill and a little oil
  • Cook with mushrooms or truffles

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