Penne with Walnut Pesto and Peas

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Even if you can’t eat gluten, you can still enjoy pasta, as there are some great gluten-free pastas available in markets. And if gluten is not an issue, prepare this dish using your favorite penne. This all-purpose pesto sauce, bursting with fresh basil, is also excellent over chicken or fish.


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 shallots or 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lb. gluten-free penne pasta
  • 10 oz. sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • 10 oz. shelled English peas, or 1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas


In a food processor, combine the basil, shallots, walnuts, lemon zest and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Process until finely ground. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil. Mix in the 1/4 cup cheese. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Set the pesto aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes (or 4 minutes less than the cooking time indicated on the package). Add the sugar snap peas and English peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, about 4 minutes more.

Remove 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta and peas. Put the pesto in a large bowl. Whisk in enough of the reserved cooking water to thin to a sauce. Add the pasta and vegetables and toss to coat. Thin with more cooking liquid and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve immediately and pass additional cheese alongside. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Gluten Free, by Kristine Kidd (Weldon Owen, 2013).

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