Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cavatappi with Pea Pesto

It all started with a boatload of fresh peas.

It's kind of sad that I've lived in Green Giant Country for over twenty years now and I've never made anything with fresh peas. Not even fresh peas. Well, thanks to my friend, Brenda, I can now cross that off of my bucket, baking, cooking list. She brought me two big bags of fresh peas (ironically from a shipment bound for Green Giant)!

The thing about peas, though, is that they come in their own packaging. This means that I had to put a little work into my finished project. Yup. I shelled peas. Oh, it wasn't hard. I even ended up with a couple of green thumbs. Literally. They were green....and I still can't keep a plant alive... 

Aren't they beautiful?

A few hours and several freezer bags of peas later, I was finished. I had no idea what to do with my peas, however. Boil 'em? Cream 'em? Fry 'em? Really, I hadn't a clue. But modern technology has given us Facebook, and I posed the question to my friends: "What should I make with my peas?"

Hmm...not a huge response. Luckily, my friend Emily from Sugar Plum came up with a few suggestions for me. The one that caught my attention: Pea Pesto! It rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? I had to try it.

I did a little research and found that the kind of peas I had were English Peas. The pods on these are pretty stringy, not suited for stir fry. It was almost a shame to toss all of them...

It turns out that making pea pesto is very similar to making regular pesto. Here, I adapted a recipe I found on epicurious.com. Easy Peasy. <----(sorry--couldn't resist). I changed out the penne pasta for cavatappi and added a few basil leaves, but aside from that, and using fresh peas rather than frozen, the recipe is the same.

Cavatappi with Pea Pesto

2 cups fresh peas (or use (1) 10 oz. bag of frozen peas)
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
several leaves of basil (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound cavatappi pasta

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain well.

With the food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop. Turn off motor and add peas, nuts and cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then process until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil, blending until incorporated.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water (4 quarts) to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 9-10 minutes. Reserve one cup of the pasta water before draining .

Toss the pasta with the pea pesto and thin as desired with the reserved cooking water.

It's like pesto, but it's also like guacamole. I'll bet if I added cilantro and a little lime juice, I could use this with tortilla chips....as it was, my husband and I were testing it out with a couple of spoons. 

I can think of a few things this pesto would be so good with....French bread, pizza, sandwiches....oh, the possibilities...

I probably could have made the picture look more appetizing, but I was running out of light. On the other hand, wouldn't this be a good dish for St. Patrick's day?

And there you have it. Pea Pesto. Pea Pesto Pasta. Say that real fast five times.....


  1. Hi Cathy, wonderful recipe! That's a great way to serve peas and you're right, this would be a great St. Patty's Day dish!

  2. I loooove english peas! I remember shelling them with my grandma as a kid... I wish I also lived in the green giant county, because here, for some reason, english peas are extremely hard to find... Your pesto looks great!

  3. Love to keep peas in the fridge for snacking. Looks great. :)

  4. Bet it tasted great.
    The first photo is awesome.