Pistachio, Spinach and Lemon Pasta with Pfeiffer Pinot Gris
A tangled nest of spaghetti in nutty lemony sauce is a house favorite. It's especially nice on a day when time is short and the kitchen is hot, as it takes all of 20 minutes, six ingredients, and only the heat necessary to boil spaghetti to create. I've been making this for years, adapting a Martha Stewart recipe and even taking it a step further with my own lime and cilantro version. Both the lemon and lime versions are wonderful all on their own for a nice vegan meal, or make great accompaniments to grilled meats and fish of all sorts.
As long as I'm putting my mind to it, wouldn't a orange/pecan version be just as wonderful?
The wine My Baby chose for this meal was the Pfeiffer 2006 Pinot Gris. The Pfeiffer's call their Pinot Gris, "Fruity, flowery and perfumey." We think this is a lovely and interesting Pinot Gris, highly aromatic and showing a bit of grapefruitiness long with its intense pear fruit. This wine is enjoyable with a wide range of food pairings, and its citrus notes work in harmony with the lemon sauced pasta.
This entire dish takes only the time required to cook pasta to complete, about 20 minutes from start to finish. Alternate ingredients for a terrific lime-cilantro version is listed in parenthesis. The lime version would be terrific served with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Give that a try, too.
1/2 cup shelled raw pistachios (1/2 cup raw pepitas)
1 shallot, cut into eighths
1 whole lemon, scrubbed and cut into eighths (1 lime + 1/2 cup chopped cilantro)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Arbequina variety is good here)
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 cups baby spinach, packed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Toast pistachios (or pepitas) in 375 degree oven until fragrant and just beginning to turn color, 6-8 minutes. Watch closely not to over-toast. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Plunge in spaghetti, stirring, and cook until tender, according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup cooking water for sauce.
Meanwhile, place cooled pistachios and shallot in bowl of food processor. Pulse until finely chopped but not yet pasty. Place in large bowl. Without cleaning processor bowl, finely chop lemon; peel, seeds and all. (For the lime/cilantro version, add the cilantro along with the lime and process together.) I find this best chopped very fine, but still with a little character; certainly not to the point of puree. Place lemon in bowl with pistachio mixture.
Add olive oil, salt and pepper and stir well. Place spinach atop pistachio mixture. The warm pasta will slightly cook it to al dente stage. Place drained pasta in bowl with reserved pasta water and stir until pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Place on 4 serving plates.