Cavatappi in a Parmesan Garlic-Almond Sauce


3/4 cup whole blanched almonds (4 oz)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 cup water
1 lb cavatappi or other small tubular pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virigin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 (10-oz) package frozen peas
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup basil leaves (torn if large), divided
1/3 cup mint leaves (torn if large), divided
1/3 cup chopped roasted almonds (2 oz)


Purée blanched almonds and garlic with water and 1/4 tsp salt in a blender until smooth.
Cook cavatappi in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water) until almost al dente. Reserve 3 cups pasta-cooking water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably straight-sided) over medium heat until foam subsides. Add almond purée and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups reserved cooking water, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. 

Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp butter until melted. Add pasta and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente (sauce will be thin), 2 to 3 minutes. Add cheese and lemon juice and stir until combined well. 

Remove from heat and stir in half of basil and mint and salt and pepper to taste. Serve pasta in bowls topped with chopped almonds, remaining herbs, and additional cheese.

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