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Edamame is the star of this nutty pasta

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While edamame are most often served in their pods and consumed as a snack, the shelled beans found in the supermarket freezer are an excellent ingredient for weeknight cooking. Edamame are young soybeans harvested before they ripen or harden, and they are an excellent source of protein. Here, they are blitzed to make a nutty ‘pesto’ — buttery but mellow, with a hint of sweetness.

This is also a great way to use up whatever soft herbs you have in the fridge like basil, parsley, mint, cilantro or dill or a combination. The nutritional yeast adds a savory punch, but if you aren’t vegan, you can substitute with a grated hard cheese like Parmesan or pecorino.

Edamame Pesto Pasta
• Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
• 1 (12-ounce) package frozen shelled edamame
• 1 pound short pasta, such as fusilli, rigatoni or cavatappi
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 1/2 packed cups soft herbs such as basil, parsley or mint leaves (or a combination), plus more to serve
• 1/3 cup roasted unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
• 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons), plus more for serving
• 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or grated hard cheese like pecorino or Parmesan)
• Red-pepper flakes, to serve

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the edamame and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until just tender. Using a slotted spoon or ladle, remove the edamame and place in a colander. Rinse under cold water, then allow to drain and cool.

To the same water (top it up with hot tap water if needed), add the pasta. Cook according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, to a food processor or high-speed blender, add the cooled edamame, garlic, herbs and seeds and blitz for 8 to 10 seconds until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the motor running, trickle in the olive oil and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, and blitz until it resembles a thick paste. (It doesn’t need to be smooth, some texture is preferred.) Stir in 3 tablespoons lemon juice, nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt and a few pinches of black pepper. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice until you are happy with the balance.

When the pasta is ready, reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Place the pot back on medium heat and add the edamame pesto, along with 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Stir until the pesto and water has emulsified, then add the pasta and stir to coat. If it looks dry, add just enough pasta cooking water for the sauce to look loose.

To serve, finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a scatter of red-pepper flakes and a few torn herbs.
Total time: 30 minutes, serves 4-6.

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