Full disclosure: when I make this pesto for my husband I use spinach instead of the basil, and sometimes add in some steamed broccoli, too. For whatever reason, he loves broccoli-pea pesto but isn’t so keen on real-deal pesto.
The guy just doesn’t like raw herbs. He also doesn’t like cookie dough or dark chocolate and only recently (finally!) agreed that bell peppers are, in fact, not spicy. Seriously. He’s also disgusted by the taste of alcohol, and once called me from the grocery store because he needed my advice on whether or not he would like baby romaine, since he’s pretty sure he likes adult romaine (spoiler alert: he DOES like adult romaine and also liked it’s less-grown self).
He likes peanut butter, though, so I guess I’ll keep him.
And, if it weren’t for his dislike of herbs, I would have never made pea pesto in the first place. His favorite pea-spinach-broccoli version is pretty good, but this basil version is my all-time favorite. I might even like it a little more than traditional pea-free pesto, too. Don’t tell anyone.
The peas add an extra creamy texture and slightly sweet flavor to this pesto, along with a surprising boost of protein. I happened to glance at the nutrition info on my bag of frozen peas and a cup of peas boasts 6 grams of protein. Who knew?
To balance out the sweetness of the peas I added plenty of garlic for heat, walnuts for texture and their buttery, earthy flavor, lemon juice for brightness and a little acidity, tons of basil, and a drizzle of olive oil. A big pinch of salt and pepper, and you’re on your way to pesto town.
I thought about sharing this recipe as part of a pasta dish, but I didn’t want to limit you to just tossing it on pasta (which, by the way, is KILLER).
This pesto would be equally delicious:
instead of tomato sauce on a pizza
as a sandwich spread
instead of (or in addition to) ricotta in your favorite lasagna recipe
dolloped on top of baked potatoes
mixed in with potato or pasta salad
stirred into scrambled eggs or omelettes
slathered on crostini
as a dip/spread on a mezze platter or cheeseboard.
The best part about this pesto- well, other than it’s thick, creamy, use-it-on-everything spreadability- is how quick and easy it is to make. Peas get a quick defrost in the microwave, then everything goes straight into the food processor to get pureed. If you have a powerful blender sitting on your counter and no desire to lug out the food processor, you could also just make it straight in the blender. That’s what I did.
I think you’re going to love this pesto as much as I do! It’s thick, creamy, surprisingly protein-packed, and so simple. Plus, you can even swap out the basil for spinach and throw in a handful of steamed broccoli and feed it to your bizarre husband, should you have one residing in your house.
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted*
- 1 cup basil, tightly packed
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1. Put all ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender, and blend until thick and creamy. Stop and scrape down the sides, if needed, and keep blending until you've reached the consistency you like. I like to stop before it's completely pureed, so there's still a bit of chunky texture left.
- 2. Toss pesto with warm or cold pasta, or use it as a spread on toast, sandwiches, lasagna, baked potatoes, etc. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for up to a week.
- *If you don't want to wait for peas to defrost, either submerge them in hot tap water for 5 minutes, or microwave them for 30-45 seconds.