I’ve been excited about spring because I’ve been hoping to cook with fresh English peas for quite awhile.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking up a pea soup recipe. And when I had a gorgeous chilled version recently, I was all ready to head that route as I shopped at the farmers market for some fresh peas still in their pods.

But as I thought about dinner, I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with just soup. And instead of making another dish to go with the pea soup, I decided to change the soup to a pasta dish and recalled a pesto recipe using peas from a cookbook I was reading.

That recipe used the pea pesto as a spread for crostini. I just took it a step further and added it to some pappardelle – the Italian flat pasta that resembles ribbons – and I had myself a meal.

Because I’m trying to eat less meat, I had the pasta just by itself with the pesto, and it was a fantastic, bright dish for spring. But you can definitely add some grilled chicken breast slices for a heartier plate. Enjoy!

The finished dish

English Pea Pesto Pappardelle Recipe
Makes 2 to 3 servings

1 cup fresh English peas, shelled (from about 1.5 lbs. of peas)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 T fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated (extra for topping)
1/4 cup + 2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
6 oz. pappardelle pasta
pinch of salt

Prepare an ice bath by placing some ice cubes in cold water in a bowl. Then bring a pot of water to boil and add the peas, cooking for about 2 minutes. Drain and submerge peas in the ice bath. Let cool, then drain.

In a food processor, add peas, pine nuts, mint, pinch of salt, and 1/4 cup olive oil and pulse until you get what looks like a spread. Don’t pulse too much; leave a few rough chunks of peas. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil and then cook the pappardelle with some salt until al dente per package instructions. In a skillet or saucepan, warm 2 T olive oil and lightly cook the garlic, then add the pea pesto. (TIP: If you don’t have a saucepan to fit all the pappardelle, then cook in batches.) Warm up the pesto for a minute then add the cooked pasta (add maybe a tablespoon of pasta water if the pesto seems clumpy) and then add the cheese and mix it throughout, then quickly remove from heat and plate. Garnish with some torn fresh mints and freshly grated cheese.

TIP: You can make the pesto ahead of time, just add more extra virgin olive oil if it seems dry.

Cup of freshly shucked English peas

Toasted pine nuts (top) and peas swimming in an ice bath (bottom)

Pea pesto slightly chunky

6 Responses to Celebrating Spring with a Pesto Twist

  1. Sandy says:

    YUM! I’m a huge fan of pesto pasta and this version with peas sounds delicious and mildly sweet! This also sounds like it might be good cold for pasta salad!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Mmmm, thanks for the idea for a cold pesto pasta salad. Now I have something for lunch next week!

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    Oooh, I bet the peas give the pesto a subtle sweetness, too. Yum! And might I add that I just love your measuring cups? 😉

    • Ben Ben says:

      It actually wasn’t detectably sweet, probably because of the pecorino. And yes, I love those measuring cups too. My niece gave them to me from Anthropologie. They have a nice pastel-color interior to boot!

  3. hungry dog says:

    Beautiful and perfect for spring. I want to make this, stat!

  4. Row says:

    Gorgeous dish, Ben! Will have to try this as soon as the farmers’ market starts up over here! 🙂