A pasta and pesto dish to kick off the picnic season

LEELA CYD ROSS Tribune Media Services Published April 12, 2012 at 4:13 a.m.
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— It won’t be long before the season of picnics and outdoor dinners is upon us, and that calls for easy pasta recipes that everyone will enjoy. This dish is easy, healthy and elegant.

In the height of summer, I love to make fresh pesto from the garden, but during the rest of the year, I cheat a little with my favorite store-bought brand. Having a nice dollop of the verdant sauce on anything, including homemade pizza or smeared onto a sandwich, it’s the brightness and intensity of flavor that I crave!

Pesto and pasta, however, shine as companions above all other iterations.

This simple recipe came together one morning while I was scrounging around my fridge looking for something substantial to take to an afternoon picnic in the park. It’s a great pasta dish because it doesn’t really need refrigeration, and it tastes great at room temperature or cold. It’s the quintessential al fresco dish, full of bright, bold notes - from the squeeze of lemon, nuttiness of the pasta, toasty almond chunks and subtle toothsome bite of edamame. A bowl of this

pasta, washed down with a glass

of white wine or lemonade, is

just the thing to usher in the

change of seasons.

PESTO PASTA WITH LEMON,

SPINACH, EDAMAME AND TOASTED ALMONDS

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients:

8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 cup pesto

8 ounces spinach

2 cups edamame (shelled and

shucked, the peas, not entire pods)

Juice from 2 lemons (plus fresh

lemon wedges for serving)

3/4 cup almonds, crushed and

lightly toasted

Directions: Heat a large pot of water to

boiling, and cook pasta until al

dente. Remove from water, strain

and rinse with cold water. In a

large bowl, stir pasta, pesto and

spinach until combined (some

spinach will wilt, some will stay

firm - this is a nice contrastof textures). Finally, stir in the edamame and squirt the lemon all over the finished dish. Reserve a few lemon slices for people to add more if they like. On a low heat, toast crushed almonds untiljust fragrant. Garnish pasta with the toasted almonds.

Leela Cyd Ross is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit comments or questions to kitchn@apartmenttherapy.com.

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