Gourmet's April 2009 Magazine had this fabulous recipe, and they've even made it available online. When I first read it, I was intrigued by the recipe and curious to know how it would work. I'm always looking for ways to get extra heart-healthy nuts in our diet. Making this recipe for dinner actually turned out to be a very economical move on my part. Paul's aunts gave us raw almonds from Trader Joe's at Christmas. We also got Trader Joe's pasta as an Easter present. Garrett Nudd left the garlic a few weeks back when he was making concoctions in our kitchen. So, much of the ingredients for this recipe were free to us.
I'll take an opportunity now to again advocate special foods as gifts and presents. There's a great sense of excitement )especially in today's economy) when the cost for a meal doesn't have to come out of your budget. Unfortunately, it's not without the freedom from work that comes with dining out, but if you don't mind the work, a mostly-free meal is something to be proud of.
So, I learned a way to blanch almonds (see below) and spent 15 minutes removing the skins. This recipe would have come together in the 20 minutes estimated by the magazine I had already had blanched almonds. Nevertheless, it was well-worth the effort.
Two big changes I made were 1)I used flat egg noodles instead of tubular pasta 2)I added fresh spinach toward the end of the cook time instead of the peas. I'm not a fan of peas, and I take every opportunity to add the dark-green healthy leaves of spinach to a recipe. The spinach worked well because it "stuck" to the pasta. The peas would have worked with the tubular pasta--getting caught in it's curves. Paul and I split the leftovers for lunch the following day and enjoyed them just as much as we did the night before. By the way, I was stunned at how important the mint was for the success of the dish. Don't leave it out!
How to Blanch Almonds
- Boil 1 cup water.
- Place 1 cup almonds in glass bowl.
- Pour boiling water to cover almonds.
- Let almonds sit 1 minute. [I think an extra 10 seconds might have made the skins easier to remove.]
- Drain the water, rinse with cold water, drain again.
- Dump almonds out on a paper towel and pat them dry.
- Slip the skins off and put the white insides in the food processor to finish the recipe.
Cost to Make Almond-Garlic Pasta
- Free Raw Almonds (Trader Joe's, gift)
- Free Garlic (Left by a guest)
- Free Egg Noodles (Trader Joe's, gift)
- $0.12 Olive Oil (Publix, Buy One Get One Free
- $0.16 Butter (Costco)
- $0.50 Spinach (Publix)
- $2.25 Parmesan Reggiano (Costco)
- $0.08 Lemon (Publix)
- Free Basil (Our Herb Garden)
- Free Mint (Our Herb Garden)
- $3.11 Total for four servings
I served the pasta with a great flatbread from Costco. At $1 a slice, it's a great splurge for our dining table. Also, the brown "meat" on the side of the plate looks like mushrooms, but is actually Vegetarian Skallops by Worthington Foods.