Monday, August 16, 2010

Pasta in almond garlic sauce

Some recipes just don't make sense. And, yet, still work. This is that kind of recipe.

I got a strong "What am I doing?" feeling as I was puréeing garlic, blanched almonds and water into a milky slurry. But, that's not the only WTH moment in the recipe. You are also called upon at different points to reserve 3 cups of pasta water and mix a bag frozen peas in with a relative truckload of fresh herbs. Huh?

Here's the Gourmet recipe:



3/4 cup whole blanched almonds
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 cup water
1 lb cavatappi
2 tbsp extra-virigin olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 small package frozen peas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup basil leaves (torn if large), divided
1/3 cup mint leaves (torn if large), divided
1/3 cup chopped roasted almond 


Purée blanched almonds and garlic with water and 1/4 tsp salt in a blender until smooth.

Cook cavatappi in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente. Reserve 3 cups pasta water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat until foam subsides. Add almond purée and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 3 min. Add 2 1/2 cups reserved cooking water, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 min. Whisk in remaining 2 tbsp butter until melted. Add pasta and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente (sauce will be thin), 2–3 min.

Add cheese and lemon juice and stir until combined well. Remove from heat and stir in half of basil and mint and salt and pepper to taste. Serve pasta in bowls topped with chopped almonds, remaining herbs, and additional cheese.

This is a really satisfying fresh summer pasta, but despite all the almonds used, I couldn't detect a distinct almond flavour in this dish at all. Just one more strange thing about this recipe, I guess. I wonder how the test kitchen came up with this one.




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