Split pea pesto pasta is made with chewy gemelli spirals, tossed with crispy skillet cooked pancetta and topped with a poached egg – total comfort food.
Grief. He and I (yes, I’m personifying an emotion and making it male – I’m sure that has some sort of psychological explanation but I don’t care) have become very close this last week or so and of all the emotions out there, I have to say, he’s a jerk.
*This Split Pea Pesto Pasta recipe is sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada, a 2017 partner of Running to the Kitchen.
We lost our sweet pup (she was 10 but still our “puppy”), Ginger very suddenly recently. She was everything to us. My buddy that kept me company all day long while I worked from home, our morning alarm clock with her nuzzles at the side of the bed, our stuffed hedge-hog loving suckler (weimaraners do this weird thing that has many different names out there for where they basically “suckle” on things – it’s the most bizarre, hysterical and adorable behavior).
She was the sweetest, the quirkiest, the best behaved (seriously – her worst behavior was maybe laying on the couch where she wasn’t allowed when we left the house from time to time) and the prettiest. We would get stopped literally every time we were in public with her by people commenting on what a great looking dog she was, followed by pure shock that she was 10 (she barely looked or acted a day over 5).
Grief hit me hard the day she died and it hasn’t quite let up since. I’ve never been so sad my entire life (the suddenness of her death making it harder than I think this would otherwise be). Our house feels so empty and quiet without the pitter patter of her nails on the wood floors or her shaking in the middle of the night outside our door. I look over during the day to her double stacked beds we haven’t had the heart to move out of the family room and expect to see her there sprawled out in some contorted position she would always maneuver herself into to instead see them empty and perfectly fluffed. I walk past her food and water bowls in the laundry room to see them bare and miss her weird quirk where she’d lick the food bowl after drinking water every single time as if to get up anything she might’ve missed from the last meal (there was never anything there) and in turn never drip any water on the floor (told ya, she was a pretty awesomely behaved dog).
I feel so lonely working from home without her yet getting dressed and forcing myself out of the house feels like a monumental task. As an extrovert, I’ve been blindsided by this overwhelming feeling of anti-socialness.
I know time will make it easier but right now I just want to curl up in sweats on my couch with my grief and a bowl of comfort food until time can do it’s thing, however long that may be.
Pasta has always been my comfort food. I usually opt for thick wide noodles like pappardelle these days but, when I think about childhood comforting pasta meals my mom would make, I think of pesto and carbonara.
Mom never combined the two, pesto was usually reserved for tortellini actually and the classic carbonara never messed with but I like to buck tradition which is exactly what I did in this split pea pesto pasta. With crunchy, salty bits of pan-fried pancetta tossed in and a perfectly poached egg and parmesan shavings on top, it’s a glorious, comfort food mash up of pesto and carbonara made with one of my favorite non-noodle pasta shapes, Gemelli. I just love the chew this shape retains when it’s cooked al dente and those twirls make it great for holding onto a thick sauce like pesto.
Making the pesto with cooked split peas as the base instead of herbs is a great way to reap all the protein and health benefits of the split pea.
As a pulse, split peas are high in protein and fiber and low in fat. This split pea pesto still has a good bit of basil in it so you get that traditional pesto flavor just with all the added benefits of the split pea. A serving of this split pea pesto pasta will get you well on your way to kicking butt at the Half-Cup Habit challenge to eat 1 1/2 cups of pulses a week too.
While I was really excited for this recipe in partnership with USA Pulses (hey, a split pea recipe that’s not soup!) when the idea came to me and love it for the comfort it brings, the timing is more than unfortunate in what it’s become.
I’m not sure pesto and carbonara will ever have that same childhood nostalgia for me in the future. Grief’s ruined that happy memory and replaced it with this intense sadness that seems to have seeped into my bones right now.
We miss you, sweet girl.
FOR THE PESTO
- 2 1/2 cups cooked split peas
- 1/4 cup packed basil leaves
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
FOR THE PASTA
- 1 pound Gemelli shaped pasta
- 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
- shaved/grated parmesan for serving
- 4 poached eggs
- red pepper flakes for serving
FOR THE PESTO:
- Combine the split peas, basil, garlic, lemon juice, pine nuts, salt, pepper and water in a food processor.
- With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Stop and scrape down the sides as needed until the pesto is smooth.
- Transfer pesto to a bowl and stir in parmesan cheese.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use on the pasta (you can make this ahead of time if desired).
FOR THE PASTA:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, follow package directions for cook time (usually about 9 minutes for Gemelli).
- Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chopped pancetta and cook until browned a crispy. Drain on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
- Once pasta is cooked, strain, reserving about 1 cup cooking liquid.
- Place the pesto in the bottom of a large bowl. Add strained pasta to the bowl and toss until combined adding as much of the cooking liquid as necessary for desired consistency.
- Fold in the cooked pancetta and spoon into serving bowls. Top with parmesan, a poached egg and a pinch of red pepper flakes.