This vibrant pea pesto will brighten up any meal!
2017 UPDATE: I recently updated this post with new photos as well as a video showing you how to make the pea pesto below. I hope you enjoy!
Pea pesto (cause I’m sick of kale)
At the risk of sounding like a teenager breaking up with her boyfriend, I’m so over the hardy greens that I’ve been seeing all winter (sorry kale and Brussels sprouts, you’re awfully nice, but we need a break). It’s time for brighter, lighter flavors. Since I have several more weeks to wait for the first bunch of asparagus and bag of arugula to arrive at our farmer’s market (damn fellows always play hard-to-get), I must turn to my freezer. Helllllooo sweet peas. You’re so cute, and you’re always there for me when I need to punch up a soup, add color to pasta, or get my five year old to eat something green. Peas are the only frozen vegetable I buy, and I consider them a pantry staple.
Quick & easy pantry staple
Last week I was heading out to dinner with some girlfriends and needed to throw dinner together for James and the girls (he is perfectly capable of making dinner himself, but he was getting home late, and I took pity). Good ol’ sweet peas came to the rescue again. I blanched the peas in a pot of water then blitzed them into a quick pea pesto with a couple handfuls of mint, some pine nuts and lemon.
In the same pot of water that I had cooked the peas, I boiled a box of pasta, then tossed it with some of the pea pesto (as well as some of the cooking water and good glug of extra virgin olive oil). A few crumbles of goat cheese on top, and dinner was served. I ended up eating half a bowl before heading out.
The pea pesto is slightly sweet and utterly uplifting. It’s also nutritious (fitting in with the clean eating of the season) and even vegan, although you can certainly add some grated parmesan if you so desire. The pesto’s great on any kind of pasta, and I’ve also been slathering it on crostini, on mini pizzas for Ella, and on crackers for a snack. Yesterday it was served atop roasted salmon for lunch. [2017 UPDATE: check out my roasted salmon with pea pesto recipe here!]
So long winter greens, frozen peas and I are having a fling. At least for the moment.
Get the recipe!
Pea Pesto (Vegan)
This super simple pesto is slightly sweet and utterly uplifting, especially when you’re craving spring. Toss it with pasta, spread it on grilled bread or crostini (it’s great with goat cheese), spoon it over salmon or chicken, or dip crackers into it for a snack. If you’re tossing the pesto with pasta (it makes more than enough for 1 pound of pasta), blanch the peas in the same water you’ll use to cook the noodles (transfer the peas to a bowl of ice water, then cook your pasta in the same pot)—this saves you a bit of clean-up and even adds some nutrients to your pasta. You wouldn’t know this pesto was vegan, but you can certainly add some grated Parmigiano when blending, or top your bowls of pasta with crumbled goat cheese, if you so desire.
- 2 1/4 cups fresh or frozen sweet peas (1 10-ounce bag frozen peas)
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and season with salt. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cook the peas in the boiling water until bright green and tender, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of ice water to cool (this will preserve their color). Drain.
In a food processor with the motor running (or you can use a Vitamix), drop the garlic clove through the feed tube and finely chop. Add the peas, mint, pine nuts and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Process to a paste. Scrape down the sides. With the machine running, drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or lemon juice, if needed.
Do Ahead: The pesto can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.