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Pantry Basics

Sweet Pea Pesto
June 3, 2011 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo

Rhubarb was the first sign of spring, its ruby stalks brightening up the rows of root vegetables at the farmers’ market. Now strawberries have made their presence known too. Before long, sweet peas will also be in abundance—I already spied a few, but they were expensive. Thankfully I have one last bag of fresh-frozen peas from last year’s harvest. I’m happy I planned ahead too, though a bag of frozen peas from the supermarket is perfectly fine in a pinch.

What am I in such a hurry to make you’re wondering—sweet pea pesto, of course. This past winter I found myself craving a new sauce to dress my pasta. Upon opening the freezer, I found a bag of peas and decided to make something of this humble beginning. I started a pot of water boiling on the stove and decided to turn my find into a feast. I chose penne, figuring the pesto would cling nicely to the ridges and sneak into the tubular opening, but spaghetti would have been a good partner too. It was a simple, satisfying and memorable meal in the midst of snowy days that easily transitions into the sunny summer days ahead.

Sweet Pea Pesto
Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups frozen peas
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces uncooked dry pasta, prepared according to package directions

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the pine nuts and cook for 1 more minute, shaking the pan to make sure the nuts and garlic don’t burn. Add the peas to skillet, and turn heat down to medium-low. Cook until the peas are tender and heated through, about 3 minutes.
  2. Spoon the pea mixture into the bowl of your Cuisinart food processor. Add the cheese, lemon zest, juice and pepper. Pulse until it forms a smooth paste. Toss with the hot cooked pasta and serve immediately.

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