Fusilli with Feta & Lemon-Caper Pesto
The idea here is to make a tangy, lemony pasta sauce with feta and a few pantry staples. You can make it in the time it takes to cook the pasta. I use a large Japanese mortar and pestle for the sauce—it takes about 5 minutes of pounding—but a blender is even faster.
Serves four as a light main course.
To learn more, read the article:
Tangy Feta Cheese is Surprisingly Versatile
For the pasta
1/2 lb. dried fusilli pasta
1 bunch fresh spinach (10 oz.), stems cut off, leaves washed well but not dried
1/4 lb. feta, crumbled (2/3 cup)
For the pesto
1 small clove garlic; more or less to taste
2 to 3 anchovy fillets (if you can get salt-packed anchovies, even better), rinsed and patted dry
1 Tbs. capers (preferably salt-packed), soaked briefly and rinsed
1-inch strip lemon zest, minced
3/4 oz. feta, crumbled (2 Tbs.)
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 or 3 fresh basil leaves (optional)
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta, and don't wash the pot. (see Use pasta water to adjust a sauce's thickness)
As the pasta cooks, wilt the spinach and make the pesto in a mortar or blender as follows:
Put the wet spinach in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a dash of salt, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, keeping the lid on; the spinach will wilt and stay bright green.
If using a blender, put in the garlic, anchovies, capers, lemon zest, the 2 Tbs. crumbled feta, the parsley, basil, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and blend until the pesto is creamy. If using a mortar, add the pesto ingredients one at a time, pounding with a pestle until well mashed and blended before adding the next ingredient. Thin the pesto with the reserved pasta water to get the consistency of runny cream; you probably won't have to use the entire 1/2 cup water.
Return the pasta to the pot in which it was cooked; add the spinach (drain any liquid left in the pan) and the pesto, stirring very well to coat the pasta. Stir in the 2/3 cup crumbled feta and serve.
nutrition information (per serving):
photo: Scott Phillips
From Fine Cooking 46
, pp. 56
August 1, 2001