When I was in Italy a few years ago I couldn't resist picking up a copy of one of their cooking magazines, Sale e Pepe. I figured it would help me improve my culinary Italian and provide delicious reading on the airplane home. Right on both counts. With much help from a dictionary, I translated this recipe that has become one of our favorites. It's quick and easy, absolutely divine to eat, and different from the usual everyday American version of pasta. I just made it this weekend for some guests and it's been on my mind ever since, so I thought I'd share the recipe. I hope you like it as much as I do!
My photo of the finished product didn't come out, but here's what it looks like just before you put it all together. Farfalle con fagiolini, mandorle e pomodori
(Bowtie Pasta with Green Beans, Almonds & Tomatoes)
From the July 2004 issue of Sale & Pepe
1/2 cup almonds (50 g)
1 tsp. sweet paprika
4 oz. feta cheese (100 g) (sometimes I use a little more on top)
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice (recipe says juice of half a lemon – I thought this was too much)
1 bunch parsley, leaves only
1 clove of garlic
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup thin (if you have them) green beans (200 g)
1 large round tomato, diced (recipe says 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced)
12 oz. bowtie pasta (320 g) (farfalle means butterfly in Italian - how cute is that?)
1) Toast the almonds in the toaster oven until fragrant. Heat the paprika in a nonstick pan over low heat until the aroma rises up. Let the almonds and paprika cool and put them into the food processer with 80% of the crumbled feta, the lemon juice, chopped parsley leaves, garlic and olive oil. Blend the ingredients into a paste and transfer it into a bowl.
2) Wash and trim the green beans (the thin ones really are the best!), dry them, and cut them on an angle. Cook until crisp tender (the crispness is a nice contrast to the pasta). Wash and dry the tomatoes and cut them into thin slices (I prefer diced).
3) Cook the pasta in boiling salted water and drain it reserving a little of the water, which you should stir into the parsley mixture to thin it to sauce consistency. Mix the pasta and sauce, add the sliced tomatoes and beans, sprinkle it all with the remaining crumbled feta and serve.