Orecchiette with rocket pesto

Orecchiette with rocket pesto are excellent dish for any occasion. The rocket is a herb with a with a peppery mustard flavor. The smooth dark green spiky leaves resemble dandelion leaves, and it is sold loose or banded in bunches. Younger, smaller arugula is milder tasting and less bitter. Arugula has traditionally been used in Italian cuisines. It’s gaining popularity as an ingredient in fresh salads, but is also good with cheeses, sandwiches, chicken and tuna salads, egg dishes, pasta and tomato dishes, and sautéd vegetables.

Ingredients:

2 cups orecchiette
¾cup fava beans*
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
½cup rocket pesto
1 tablespoon minced fresh peppermint
½teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch of red pepper flakes

* If you don’t have favas, you can substitute with fresh or frozen peas

For rocket pesto

4 cups packed rocket
1 cup Parmesan cheese, cut in cubes
zest and juice of one  lemon
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup olive oil

orecchiette with argula pesto

Preparation:

Put all the ingredients in the food processor or blender. Taste to adjust seasoning. Use as a dip for fresh veggies and it is great for pasta, too.

Shelling the Beans:

Shelling favas is a two-step process. First, you take the beans out of their pod, and then peel the outer layer of “skin” from the beans themselves. It won’t kill you to leave the outer skin layer on, but the texture is much better without it.

Make the pasta dish:

In salted boiling water, boil the orecchiette until done. Using a hand-held strainer, remove the pasta and set aside in a large bowl. In the same water you used to cook the pasta, cook your shelled and peeled favas for 1 minute. They will turn bright green and still have great crunch. After the favas cook, strain them, and place them in the same bowl as the pasta.

In a dry pan, toast the pine nuts until you can smell their flavor. They should smell nutty, but not burned.

In the same large bowl, add the toasted pine nuts, pesto, peppermint, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes to the cooked pasta and favas. Toss together and garnish with a sprig of peppermint and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. This dish can be served warm or refrigerated and served cold.

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