make it: mint basil pesto & kumquat spaghetti… with peas!


another pesto, you say?

well, yes. they’re super summery (just ask the june cover of BA mag), and i love pasta with pesto and fresh english peas. all the stars aligned for this dish, which i made earlier this month.

how did all the stars align for this? well, i got to practice with the kitchenaid pasta making attachment at work, and it was so fun i ran out to get my own. soon after, i had roasted kumquats over burrata at roman’s in fort greene that blew me away, and realized i wanted to eat kumquats with everything. and now i had all this fresh pasta in the freezer, just waiting for me to do something with it, so here it is: a little recipe for fresh spaghetti with mint basil pesto, roasted kumquats, and peas!

first work on the kumquats and peas. (figure on about 1/4 cup of each per serving). preheat the oven to 375F, and while that’s happening, shell some peas. then slice the kumquats in half, remove any big seeds, and put on a foil-lined baking tray. douse them with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and red chili flake. roast for about 12-15 minutes. set aside.

mint-basil pesto:

1 cup each mint leaves and basil leaves

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

3/4 cup grated parmesan

2 scallions

zest of 1 lemon + juice from half

1/4 cup + 2T olive oil

1t sea salt + 1/2t pepper

pulse till saucy in a vitamix or food processor and set aside. the yield is enough for several servings of pasta, but you can also add some into a viniagrette, or mix some in with ricotta cheese and slather it on a bageutte… endless uses, really. also, i know garlic is included in virtually every pesto recipe, and without it, it’s not really pesto. but. i think it’s too strong for this dish. plus it makes my tummy hurt. if you want to add a clove, go for it.

while the spaghetti is cooking, put the peas in the steamer basket over the boiling water for a couple minutes and then straight into an ice bath. (a little cheat so you don’t have to wash two pots!) drain the cooked pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. toss with several spoonfuls of the pesto and as many peas and kumquats as you want per serving. you can add some pasta water if it needs loosening up. i do this part all off the heat, as cooking the pesto turns the lovely green color kind of brown and not as appetizing looking. add a little extra grated parmesan cheese, some fresh chopped mint, and eat. it is light, zingy, and delicious.

i used the fresh egg pasta recipe from the cookbook The Glorious Pasta of Italy, by Domenica Marchetti. it was divine, but obviously boxed or store-bought fresh would be as well.


(photos by laura kinsey for

eat it: sesame noodles

sesamenoodlessesame noodles…. ever since realizing that i can totally make these at home, they’ve become a bit of a problem. a little bit healthy and a little bit not, i want them at almost every meal. this dish has everything – great texture, great flavor….they’re irresistible to me.

now, for you by-the-book types, i know my version is kind of japanese and maybe kind of thai, and kind of not really authentic at all. but this is how i do it, and it’s good!

for the sauce:

2T tahini

2T creamy peanut butter

1T each of mirin, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and siracha. either regular sesame or toasted sesame oil is fine, and you can add some hot chili oil as well, if you have it!

1t grated ginger

juice from 1/2 a lime

for garnish:

handful of rough-chopped cilantro, thinly sliced scallions, and sesame seeds.

for the noodles:

the options are many. in the picture above, i used regular old pasta noodles (actually my last choice – just what i happened to have on hand) but you can use ramen, udon, rice noodles, or buckwheat soba noodles. my new favorite noodle is the black bean “spaghetti” from the brand Explore Asian. they have two ingredients (black beans & water!) and about 25 grams of protein per serving and almost half your daily requirement of fiber. they’re a perfect backdrop for the sauce.

the sauce! oh yes. easist thing ever – mix everything in a bowl, and toss with the cooked/rinsed/drained noodles. scatter the sesame seeds, scallions, and cilantro over the top. if the sauce seems a little thick, add a tablespoon or so of the pasta cooking water or regular hot water to thin it out.

(photo by laura kinsey)


eat it: beans & greens

bkp_beansngreens_3-26-13this has become one of my favorite go-to healthy lunches. it’s simple, cheap and quick. yes, it involves the tiniest bit of cooking and you will have a sautée pan to wash, but it’s worth it. i swear it is…

what you’ll need:

half a bunch of kale (i like the tuscan kale, or cavolo nero, for recipes like this) washed & ready to use

7 oz. white cannellini beans (about half a can)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 c white wine

2 T diced canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, OR 2 T tomato paste*

juice from half a lemon

1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)

olive oil for the pan

make it:

take your kale leaves and cut in half. i remove the stem from the lower half because they get kind of tough at that end, but skip it if you don’t mind a little extra chew. rinse and drain beans so they’re ready to go. set both aside.

put a glug of olive oil in the sautée pan, add minced garlic clove and crushed red pepper. turn on the flame. when garlic starts to sizzle, add kale leaves. before the garlic starts to smell weird and burn, add the lemon juice, white wine, and tomato paste. using tongs, turn kale leaves over and around in the pan for about 2-3 minutes. add beans, and pop the cover on for another minute or two so beans can heat through. if the pan starts to make that hissing dry sound, add a splash more lemon juice or wine.

transfer to a bowl. dress with another little glug of olive oil, sea salt, and fresh cracked black pepper. sprinkle with sliced scallions and EAT.

* i use about 2 tablespoons of a fresh tomato sauce made from canned San Marzano tomatoes that i try to make and just keep on hand. tomato paste works well too, as would some chopped fresh tomato or 2 tablespoons of canned diced tomatoes, just straight out of the can. if you buy tomato paste – buy it in the tube! you can use a little at a time and it’s won’t go bad like it will if you try to save the remainer of the can. i love the kind from Amore. (i’m dying to try their anchovy paste in something, too!)

recipe and photo by laura kinsey for bklynprairie