I love pesto and come up with endless variations for this special- to-my-heart concoction. I often use basil, but other times I use parsley, mint, chives, tarragon, etc. Making up combinations depending on what I have on hand determines the mixture. I use pine nuts, pecans, walnuts and pistachios. Again, the ingredients lurking in my pantry become fodder for the food processor.
I really cannot say enough good things about this pea and pistachio pesto. It has everything about a dish that I love: savory notes, sweet notes, varying textures. I enjoy using it in so many different ways and it is a great staple to have in your refrigerator, waiting to be used in meals throughout the week. Try it spread on toast with ricotta or goat cheese and a poached egg for breakfast; use it in salads, wraps or sandwiches for lunch; or add it to pasta or pizza for dinner. The possibilities are endless and hopefully the farmers’ market will inspire your creativity.
PEA & PISTACHIO PESTO
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
16 oz. (1 lb) fresh peas (or thawed if using frozen)
1/4 cup roasted unsalted pistachios, shelled
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (or omit to make dairy free)
Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by blanching the peas in boiling water for 2 minutes and then moving to them to an ice bath to chill & remove the peas from the water once chilled
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pistachios until they are in small pieces
Add the chilled peas, mint, olive oil, lemon zest and Parmesan (if omitting Parmesan add a generous pinch of salt) — pulse in the food processor until ingredients are well combined, but not smooth — you want the pesto to have a bit of texture.
Taste the pesto for seasoning, add salt to taste as necessary
Cover and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve – pea pesto will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
This recipe produces a thick pesto that is great for spreading on bread. If you plan on using it to top a pizza or to use it in pasta, add olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency. When adding it to cooked pasta, you can add a small amount of pasta water to think it out.
Finally, if I know that I will not be using all of the pesto I make I crush up unflavored Vitamin C tablets and add this while the mixture is in the food processor. This prevents the mixture from oxidizing and turning an unappetizing dark brown. I freeze the extra pesto in ice cube trays and when it’s frozen pop them out of the trays and store in Ziplock bags.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share here experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at [email protected].