One of my favourite vegetables that I love to eat in the spring are fresh peas. They are incredibly sweet, tender and flavourful and are a nice little treat instead of frozen peas that we eat year-round.
This recipe for my Pea & Pesto Pasta celebrates this seasonal vegetable and is super quick and easy!
Peas & Basil are a Match Made in Heaven
Peas go great with just about anything, but nothing compares to the combination of fresh peas and basil. The sweetness of the peas balances the intense basil flavour and is incredibly refreshing together!
To bring these two ingredients together by mixing peas into a traditional basil pesto. I simply add cooked fresh peas to a food processor with typical pesto ingredients including basil, Parmesan cheese, nuts, lemon, and garlic. With a touch of a button, all of these delicious ingredients gets chopped up and pureed into a creamy green pesto sauce that is perfect for coating freshly cooked pasta.
Of course, while peas are not in season for very long during the springtime, you can always use frozen peas throughout the rest of the year and the flavour is basically the exact same. But definitely try to get them while they’re around!
Different Uses for Pea Pesto
This pea pesto that is used as the base for my Pea & Pesto Pasta is so good that you can eat it on it’s own straight out of the food processor! But since this pea pesto is so delicious, you can use it in a variety of other recipes.
I have used this pea pesto as a dip for fresh vegetables such as sliced carrots, celery and red pepper, and is a fun and seasonal alternative to traditional dips such as hummus.
You can also spread this pea pesto onto warm toast as an alternative to avocado toast. It’s just as creamy but is much more refreshing and sweet compared to plain old avocados.
Also, this pea pesto pairs great with eggs. Whether you choose to scramble, fry or poach your eggs, serving them with a side of pea pesto is fun and a different way to enjoy breakfast!
Recipe developed for We Heart Local BC.
Recipe: Pea & Pesto Pasta
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes
- Water, for boiling
- 2 cups green peas (fresh or frozen), divided
- 3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon salt
- 1-pound fusilli pasta (or pasta shape of your choice)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups fresh basil, leaves only
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute with peeled and blanched almonds)
- ¼ cup olive oil
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling, add the peas to the pot and cook for 2 minutes, or until the peas are bright green. Once cooked, remove the peas from the water using a slotted spoon and transfer them into a bowl filled with ice water. This will stop the cooking and will keep the peas nice and bright green.
Return the pot of water to a boil, add 3 tablespoons of salt, and the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
In the meantime, make the pesto. Add the garlic cloves, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and pepper to a food processor. Pulse until the garlic has been minced into fine pieces.
Next, drain the chilled peas and set ½ cup of peas aside for later. Add the rest of the peas to the food processor along with the basil, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts.
Turn on the food processor and add the olive oil in a slow and steady stream through the top spout. The pesto should become thick and creamy, however if it is too chunky or is not coming together, add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the pesto to thin it out into a smooth sauce. Taste the pesto and adjust it for seasoning if desired.
Next, drain the pasta then return it to the pot. Add the pesto to the pasta along with the reserved ½ cup of peas and mix until fully combined. Place the pasta onto a serving plate and top with additional Parmesan cheese.
Serve warm and enjoy!
Note: Leftover pesto can keep for three days in the refrigerator. You can use it again on other pasta, add it to eggs, or spread it on to some toast.