Minty Pea Pesto

There are so many things to love about June.

There are the long days of bright sunshine to spend laying in a hammock with a book or swimming in a lake or taking long meandering walks. There are the warm rains that make everything smell fresh and the passing thunderstorms to watch from the porch when the rain comes down in torrents.

There are the evenings that seem to stretch on forever, sitting outside with a glass of wine watching the twilight settle down. There are the fireflies at dusk.

There  is the perfume of a thousand different flowers carried on the breeze. There are irises and roses to admire, elder flowers to simmer in pots full of lemon and lime zest for elderflower cordial. Peonies to place in old glass mason jars and set on the table.

There are strawberries – juicy and crimson through and through – and rhubarb that is fragrant and tart and lovely. There are tender young lettuces and spicy radishes to crunch into, peas so sweet you could eat them by the handful.

There are friends who come to visit and friends to go and see.

There is the scent of cut grass and the hum of lawnmowers in the distance. There is riding in the car with all the windows down. Cold glasses of lemonade that taste so amazingly good and summer dresses that are cool and airy and make one feel pretty.

And there are the meals eaten outside – the picnics, the backyard barbecues, the lunches in the leafy shade and the late late dinners on the porch when the sun is going down and the fireflies and starting to twinkle. I would eat every meal out-of-doors this month if I could. Everything tastes better when it is eaten under open sky with the wind in your hair and the birds singing all around you. It really does.

Because I love the opportunity to bask in the gentleness of June as often and as long as I can, I try to make meals that are light and fresh,  intended to be eaten slowly, nonchalantly, lazily – designed more as an accompaniment to being outdoors than as the sole purpose.  I put out bowls of salad from the garden and let people make their own.  I make pesto with all of the wonderful herbs coming up in the garden to slather on crusty pieces of bread with fat slices of mozzarella or fresh tart goats cheese to crumble. Bowls of fresh strawberries with lightly whipped cream for dipping them in. All the sorts of things that taste exactly of June.

This is a pesto I made the other day using fresh peas – sweet and tender and wonderful – and mint from the garden. It is refreshing and light and just the thing for a warm and hazy day that requires something light. I served it with my favorite oatcakes baked into wedges, fresh mesclun greens from the garden and a handful of hot peppery radishes.

Minty Pea Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds peas in their pods - or about 1 pound freshly shelled peas (you can use frozen in a pinch, but it won't be nearly as good!)
  • 1 small bunch of fresh mint, leaves removed from stems
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan (optional)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • a good pinch each of salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the peas, pinenuts, garlic and mint leaves into a food processor with a pinch of salt and about half the olive oil. Pulse until the peas are broken up but still have some chunk and texture to them. Add the cheese, lemon juice, another pinch of salt and black pepper and pulse again, drizzling in more olive oil as needed until you have the consistency you want - it should be about the consistency of a thick hummus, with slightly more texture to it.
  2. Check for salt and pepper and acidity, adding more of each as you see fit.
  3. Serve with toasted crusty bread, oat cakes or a crisp, hearty cracker. Torn fresh mozzarella would be a good addition, along with a nice fresh salad - to make this more of a meal.

Comments

  1. So beautifully written. Those are all the things I love about summer too. It feels like heaven after winter.

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Today I was complaining about how hot it was – until I remembered what it felt like in February. Then I stopped complaining and actually enjoyed it 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  2. beautiful food – beautifully written, beautifully photographed… just gorgeous!!!

  3. Great post. The pesto looks great and you capture the feeling of summer with your writing.

  4. Absolutely fantastic. What a great pesto! I like that it has a thick texture, perfect for spreading etc… I’m enjoying my garden at the moment, it looks all wild and in bloom.

    • Danielle Charles says:

      This is the time of year when the garden really begins to explode, isn’t it? You turn your back for a few days and everything seems to have grown a foot! I’m glad to know you are also in the thick pesto club 🙂 Keep enjoying your garden 🙂

  5. Looks great! I made walnut pesto today, but I will have to try this another day 🙂

    • Danielle Charles says:

      There are so many pestos to try and so little time! This is a good one though – if you love peas it is definitely worth a go.

  6. I love June, too, and I can’t wait to try this recipe. You also reminded me to put out the hammock.

    • Danielle Charles says:

      A very important thing to remember! There is nothing like an afternoon spent on the hammock with a good book 🙂

  7. epreuve says:

    there’s a big pot of mint on my back porch…now I know how to use some of it.
    thanks,
    lovely images too

  8. I had never thought of Pea Pesto before for I would always relish growing my own sweet basil to make Pesto sauce to have on top of crusty Italian bread that has been brushed with olive oil and baked Brushetta style. Now I shall try it with Pea Pesto instead…….many thanks for sharing your delightful thoughts of summer…Hugzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Bruschetta with pesto and olive oil is just the pest, isn’t it? While I’m just a huge fan of basil and could certainly be quite content to never branch out, I’ve been trying all different sorts of pestos the past few summers – arugula, asparagus, parsley, mint – this one is definitely one of my new favorites. I hope you like it! XOXO

  9. Lovely.

  10. What a beautiful post… just reading it made me slow down and appreciate summer all the more! I have plenty of fresh mint, but I wish I had gotten peas in this year. Guess I will check at the farm market, because I think this will be delicious!

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hope you can procure the said peas – they should be in season for the next few weeks so hopefully you won’t have any trouble finding some. Summer always flies by so fast – too fast – so I am glad that reading the post helped you slow down and savor it all the more. Thanks for your comment! XOXO

  11. Your strawberries look lovely. The minty pea pesto looks like something I would enjoy both making and eating.

    • Danielle Charles says:

      There certainly is something nice about making pesto isn’t there? Lots of good smells, not too much mess, quick and easy and very nice mopping up the spills 🙂

  12. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Can’t wait to make this!

  13. This post is so wonderfully evocative!! I found all my senses being awakened and delighted just reading it! So beautiful. And that pesto sounds amazing! Mark makes a delicious pea and mint soup during the summer so I can imagine this would make a great pesto combination too. My peas are very behind this year after the funny spring weather so I will have to be patient a while but I’ll be making it soon for sure. 🙂
    Big hugs and kisses xxx

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