Spring Pea Pesto

I love spring. It is finally starting to warm up, and I am even willing to forgive the occasional downpours since the trees and flowers are gorgeous as a result. This year, I am actually missing Italy and the plethora of fresh produce that was available daily. In particular, I am in fava bean withdrawal. Weird? Probably. But perfectly justified in my book.

Today was warm and humid, and I really wanted something refreshing for dinner. I remembered seeing a recipe for smashed peas and fava beans with fresh mozzarella on The Cilantropist a few weeks ago, so I headed to Safeway in search of some fava beans. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any fresh or frozen beans. I had already picked up some frozen peas, so I decided to save my fava bean experiment for another day and instead make some pea pesto.

This is an incredibly simple dish that takes only a few minutes to put together. You can boil your pasta while you make your pesto, then immediately toss everything with a bit of cheese, and you are good to go! I suppose to truly be a pesto, I ought to include some nuts in the recipe, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I will try that next time around. I served this with a side of garlic-roasted asparagus. The simplicity of this dish makes me think that it will be a staple in my kitchen for the rest of this season and into the summer.

As always, recipe is below. Happy eating!

Spring Pea Pesto


  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh mint + extra for garnish
  • ¼ to ½ cup good quality EVOO
  • ½ cup of Italian cheese blend
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Boil your peas and cook until tender. While your peas are cooking, chop up your mint, zest and juice your lemon. Place your mint, lemon zest and lemon juice in your blend, along with some salt and pepper.
  • When your peas have finished cooking, drain them, reserving about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Place your peas in the blender.

  • Turn the blender on. As the blender begins to combine your pea and lemon mixture, begin to drizzle in your olive oil and a little bit of the cooking liquid, until the mixture is smooth. It should be a bit thicker than your average basil pesto.
  • Remove from the blender and mix in ¼ cup of cheese. Toss with your favorite pasta and a little bit more of the cooking liquid (if you are out, use a bit from the pasta). Toss to combine.
  • Top with a sprinkling of cheese and some fresh mint leaves.

Makes a 1¼ cups of pesto.

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