February is finally behind us – despite sneaking in an extra day at the end.  My sister has always hated February – as long as I’ve known her, she’s always gotten a bit blue because of the grotty last-gasp-of-winter weather.  Except for this year when the Georgia spring arrived a little early.

This is the perfect dish to celebrate the longer days and warmer weather with first official day of spring just a couple of weeks away – yeehaw!!  It’s so lovely and fresh and GREEN, it really is the polar opposite of all the stodgy, stew-y food we’ve been warming ourselves over for the last couple of months.  And the combination of flat-leaf parsley and lemon just makes you feel all squeaky-clean on the inside.  As much as I love winter food, sometimes it’s nice to end a meal feeling healthier than when you started.

So, the reason I added “and chicken” in parenthesis is that this recipe works perfectly well without it.  I happened to have some left-over roasted chicken lying around, so I heated it up and threw it in.  But, I think the dish works just as well without it – or would be absolutely lovely with some salmon or trout, as well.  If you want to add some veg, some gorgeous spring peas would be nice, too!

Pasta with Lemon and Parsley Pesto

  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley (packed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • good pinch red pepper flakes (about 1/4 tsp – a little more if you want a kick)
  • zest of 2 lemons + juice of 1-2 lemons, depending
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (to get a little more garlic-y goodness, I include a Tbsp or 2 of garlic-infused olive oil in the overall quantity)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb twisty pasta like fusilli or trophie
  • leftover chicken or fish (optional)

Put a large pot of salted water on high heat to boil and cook your pasta.  While that’s cooking, use a blender to puree the parsley, juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes until throughly mixed.  Check for consistency – me, I don’t like it too thick, so I add more lemon juice and olive oil until it’s just pourable, but it’s really down to your own personal taste.  Then, stir in the Parmesan and check for seasoning (always season AFTER you add the Parmesan as it’s a bit salty).

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and drizzle with a little olive oil, then pour into a bowl and toss with the pesto.  If you’re adding chicken or fish, I’d heat it separately, then add a little lemon juice to that before mixing it all together – it gives it that little extra lemon punch!