In case you haven’t heard, SpiceTopia now carries pasta! And not just any pasta, really good pasta! Pasta created with heirloom stone-ground organic wheat. Pasta that’s carefully cut by hand or with bronze cut die. Pasta that has exceptional flavor and the most amazing textures. Pasta that’s as traditional as pasta gets! Can you tell, we’re a little bit coo-coo for this new pasta?!
With pasta this good, we wanted the sauce to be up to the quality of this pasta. Radiatori–or radiator-shaped pasta is full of ruffled edges that capture lots of sauce. To avoid overpowering the taste of this amazing pasta, we decided to go with something simple and seasonal. Pea and Mint Pesto fit the bill.
Pesto is one of those easy Italian sauces where the flavor is much more than the effort required to make it. While we tend to think of traditional basil pesto when we picture pesto, pesto can be made from so many other flavors. With spring on the horizon and peas popping up at the farmers’ markets, we couldn’t pass up a pea and mint pesto.
TIP: How to Keep Pesto a Bright Happy Green
Have you ever made a pesto with fresh herbs, only to have it end up a dark murky green or even brown color? To keep your pesto a bright green color, blanch your herbs for just a few seconds in boiling water. Then dunk them in ice water. This process kills the enzymes that naturally browns leaves when they are damaged–or chopped.
Vegetarian or Vegan Pea Pesto Recipe
This recipe is naturally vegetarian. To make it vegan, simply skip adding the parmesan cheese. As the parmesan cheese naturally adds a salty flavor to this pesto, be sure to taste your pesto and add additional salt if needed.
We really don’t think you’ll miss the meat in this dish. But if you are looking for something more substantial, stir in some diced ham or top with a sauteed boneless skinless chicken breast seasoned with Ventura Spice.
As with all simple recipes that call for just a few ingredients, use the best you can acquire of each of those ingredients as you’ll taste each one.
Peas. Fresh peas are simply delicious in this recipe but are available for only a short season each year. Frozen peas are blanched and frozen within hours of being picked. We often feel they are fresher than the peas available in most grocery stores–and are a favorite of ours year-round. They work perfectly in this recipe.
Mint. Pesto really needs fresh herbs. Unfortunately, dried herbs just won’t work. Spearmint is the mint that is usually used in cooking. We use yerba buena mint as it is what grows wild throughout backyards across Ventura County. Feel free to use the mint that is available where you live.
Olive Oil. A flavorful Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is a must in any pesto and this recipe isn’t any different. We used Arbequina Olive Oil in this recipe, but also love it with our Co-pressed Lemon Olive Oil.
Parmesan cheese and pine nuts also work to season this pesto as both add nutty savory flavors. Many pesto recipes call for unsalted roasted pine nuts. We actually like the extra boost of flavor the salted roasted nuts add. Use whichever version you enjoy or can find at your market. You’ll most likely have leftover pine nuts. Store them in the freezer for your next batch of pesto–or sprinkle them across your morning yogurt or oatmeal.
Pasta. Look up close at this radiatori! See the texture on the pasta created by the bronze cut die which creates its shape? Now concentrate on all those nooks and crannies–perfection when you want each piece of pasta to grab hold of lots of sauce! Of course, we created this pesto specifically for our Radiatori pasta, but it will work with any pasta which has nooks and crannies to catch the sauce.
Pea and Mint Pesto with Radiatori
Pea Pesto with Radiatori Recipe
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Drop mint in water for 5 seconds. Scoop out of the water and drop into a bowl of ice water.
Remove mint from ice water and using a tea towel blot off the water.
Drop peas into the same pot of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Scoop out of the water and drop into the same bowl of ice water. Drain. Set aside 1 cup of peas to add whole recipe at the end.
Drop pasta in boiling water. Cook for 11 minutes.
In a food processor, add peas, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Pulse until everything is chopped. Then set processor on continuous speed and puree until smooth.
Taste for salt and acid. If your pesto just tastes like nothing much, add more salt and lemon juice.
Drain pasta when cooked to the texture you like. Add pesto and just a splash of the pasta cooking water along with the set-aside peas.