Parmesan, lemon, garlic and red-pepper flakes: It’s one of The Sylvia Center’s favorite combinations of flavors to pair with pasta. In this recipe from The New York Times Cooking, our tried and true takes it to the next level by adding gremolata, an Italian condiment made of chopped herbs (most traditionally parsley or celery leaves), lemon zest, and garlic. It is often used as a garnish or as an accompaniment to meat. This variation adds toasted almonds, and there’s plenty of room to play with ingredients by switching up the herbs or the type of citrus, using a different nut, or swapping the garlic for shallots. No matter your flavor combination, the addition of green beans and chickpeas turns this into a meal.
We’re always looking for ways to avoid food waste, so another reason the gremolata piques our interest is because it puts celery leaves in the spotlight. If you can find it, choose a bunch of celery that still has its leaves. Delicate and flavorful, they find their perfect home here, and you can save the stalks for adding to soup, stock, or slicing into sticks for snacking.
Pasta with Greenbeans and Almond Gremolata
Adapted (barely) from The New York Times Cooking
For the Gremolata:
¼ cup sliced almonds
⅓ cup finely chopped celery leaves or parsley leaves
1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus more for serving (from 1 medium lemon)
1 garlic clove, grated
For the Pasta:
1 pound short pasta such as gemelli, campanelle or cavatappi
¾ pound string beans, trimmed and cut/snapped into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can beans such as chickpeas or cannellini, drained and rinsed
¼ cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan, plus more for serving
Kosher salt, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water (2 heaping tablespoons salt to about 7 quarts of water) to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-low heat, toast the almonds, stirring frequently so they don’t burn, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. In a medium bowl, combine almonds, celery or parsley leaves, lemon zest, garlic and pinch of salt. Set aside and wipe out skillet with a towel.
4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. About 2 minutes before it is done, add the green beans to the pasta pot. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain.
5. While the pasta and beans drain, make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in the large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until garlic is golden in color, about 1-2 minutes. Turn heat to low and add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet and cook until it is reduced by about half, 1-2 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add the pasta, green beans, canned beans and butter to the skillet and toss until the butter melts. Add the cheese and an additional ¼ cup of water and toss until the cheese is emulsified and the pasta is glossy with sauce. If needed, add an additional ¼ cup pasta water to loosen. Season with kosher salt to taste.
6. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl or make individual servings. Top with gremolata, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon zest. Add additional grated cheese at the table, if desired.