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Nutty Pea Pesto made from fragrant basil, fresh sweet peas, toasted walnuts and roasted garlic. Spread on crostini or use as a sauce over noodles and cooked veggies.
Pea Pesto (Peas? Puhlease Explain)
So what the heck is pea pesto? We all know basil is usually the primary ingredient in traditional pesto. Well, aside from a few short months of the year, basil is either very expensive or just not fully mature (in Wisconsin at least). In a couple weeks I will have a bounty of basil, but for now, I’m only able to harvest about a cup or so of leaves at a time from my garden.
Not much pesto from this wee lad.
So what do we do now?
At the end of summer you’ll be raking in the basil … but what about NOW? For now, we use peas! The are in season, very affordable and oh so sweet. And if you’re reading this at a time when peas are not in season, they are thankfully in the frozen aisle of every grocery store and about the cheapest veggie you can find year round.
You Don’t Need Cheese, Trust Me.
If you are vegan you have undoubtedly been using nutritional yeast as your secret ingredient in many dishes (vegan mac and cheese, anyone?). If this is a new ingredient for you, don’t be deterred by its unappetizing name.
Nutritional yeast is cheesy, nutty and incredibly high in protein. It’s also one of the best popcorn toppers (mix with paprika, dill and a teeny bit of oil). When it comes to pesto, use it in place of parmesan and you’ll never look back.
Here’s How You Make Plant-Based Pea Pesto:
Start by toasting your walnuts. This isn’t completely necessary, but it will add a richer flavor to your pesto. Likewise, roast the garlic too. If it’s helpful, you can do these steps in advance and keep the ingredients in the fridge.
If you cook from scratch often, it’s helpful to always have toasted walnuts and roasted garlic on hand. I usually have a few bags of nuts in my pantry and whenever I turn the oven on, I’ll toss a few handfuls in for toasting. When cooled, I put in a tupperware and keep in the fridge for a couple weeks. You never know when they’ll come in handy, and it’s a nice relief to save yourself the step in the future.
To toast the walnuts:
Place walnuts on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes or so or until you can smell them. Be careful to not overcook the walnuts as this will remove too much moisture from the nut and add a bitter flavor to the pesto.
To roast the garlic:
Chop off the heads from the bulb and remove most of the paper. Wrap in foil and bake for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Here’s a good tutorial on how to roast garlic.
Once you’ve figured out if you’re roasting your nuts and garlic or using raw, simply place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend. It’s that easy.
Sometimes I will double this recipe and freeze the leftovers. It will turn a little brown when defrosting but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I would never serve defrosted leftover pesto to guests, but it’s great for when I need a little flavor boost to a weeknight dinner of simple pasta and vegetables.
Here Are Other Things To Do With Pesto:
I developed this pea pesto recipe for this stuffed sweet potato recipe, but there are dozens of other uses for it. Here are just a few ideas:
Spread on a baguette and serve as appetizer for a party. (Make it cute by adding a little cherry tomato or basil leaf as garnish.)
Put the pea pesto on toast (same concept as above, but more caj).
Spread on a sandwich with avocado slices and romaine lettuce.
Lightly warm the pea pesto and use it to coat spaghetti noodles.
Use as a marinade for grilled veggies.
Thin it with olive oil and lemon juice and use as salad dressing.
1 Cup Peas
1/2 Cup Basil Leaves
3/4 Cup Walnuts
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Cloves Of Garlic
2 Tbs. Nutritional Yeast
2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Pepper
Splash Of Lemon Juice