If I had a dime for every time I wished that Hubby spoke French, I’d be a rich woman.
For those whose minds took a dive straight into the nearest gutter, c’mon, this is a family blog. Let me explain.
My parents, French and Belgian immigrants that they are, speak French. While it was (and still is) the main language they spoke at home, it was also the ultimate secret-keeping and private conversation weapon they used against us nosy little ones.
Fast forward forty years or so and here I am, married to an English-speaking American, and raising a nosy little one of our own. Oh, and I speak French. Of course I learned. Both my brother and I did. We may have kept our new found skill a secret from our parents though. Don’t judge; you’d have done the same thing.
So, one might think that having been on the receiving end of second-language, secret-keeping parents would give me a certain amount of empathy now. After all, I have first-hand experience with the frustration of listening to my folks talk and understanding what they were saying as well as anyone can understand Charlie Brown’s parents when they ‘Wha-wah-wah’ him.
Yeah, not the case. There’s only so much conversating that can happen with meaningful gazes and body language. It used to be that we could get away with using a graduate school level vocabulary when we wanted to talk around Dudette without her knowing what we were talking about. But even that’s not working anymore.
So, here I sit, wishing Hubby spoke French. C’est la vie.
Our family is fairly basic as far as food goes. While Hubby has to avoid lactose, his needs are met sufficiently by my buying Lactaid milk and ice cream. We have no gluten intolerances, love meat too much to consider a vegetarian diet, enjoy cooked vegetables as much as raw, and are not rich enough to even consider going paleo.
I say all that because this dish is milk free, even though it has a wonderfully creamy sauce. Yes, I know almond milk is all the rage now, but it wasn’t back in 2009 when Gourmet printed this recipe and it’s not in our house. So, it was fun to see how the family would respond when I served the pasta, if they’d notice a difference.
As far as the process, it’s fairly easy and quick. I used my Magic Bullet and the mug attachment since I was only making about a cup of sauce. It worked perfectly at turning almonds, garlic and water into a creamy liquid.
While I usually complete the rest of a dish while the pasta cooks, in this case, the pasta needs to be finished first because the pasta water is used to create the sauce. It’ll get heated up again, so go ahead and make your pasta, drain it, and reserve the liquid.
The magazine also calls for a 12-inch skillet, but seeing as the pasta, peas, sauce and herbs all get dumped together, twelve inches barely contains everything. No, I take it back. It doesn’t contain everything. I have blackened peas and pasta all around my burner to prove it. I recommend just using the biggest straight-sided skillet in the cabinet.
Hubby and I both enjoyed this because of the strong garlic infusion. I kept trying to taste almond, but the sauce really just tastes like a garlic cream sauce. The basil and mint do complement each other well and provide excellent flavor.
For a quick, easy, light meal, this was delicious. At least Hubby and I thought so.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
In order to make this a more filling meal, I’d probably add some chopped ham.
- ¾ cup whole blanched almonds (4 ounces)
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- ¾ cup water
- 1 pound cavatappi or other small tubular pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 1 (10-ounces) package frozen peas
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional for serving
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup basil leaves (torn if large), divided
- ⅓ cup mint leaves (torn if large), divided
- ⅓ cup chopped roasted almonds (2 ounces)
- Purée blanched almonds and garlic with water and ¼ teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth.
- Cook cavatappi in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until almost al dente. Reserve 3 cups pasta-cooking water and drain pasta.
- Meanwhile, heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably straight-sided) over medium heat until foam subsides. Add almond purée and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add 2½ cups reserved cooking water, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted. Add pasta and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente (sauce will be thin), 2 to 3 minutes. 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.