Spring basil pesto with peas, scallions and walnuts – Make use of spring produce in this bright and flavorful pesto! Pine nut and parmesan-free, seasonal, vegan-friendly.
PESTO, you guys. I’m going to be completely honest with you in that I don’t have a ton of experience making pesto; however, I do have a ton of experience eating it 😉 Lately it’s been my favorite dip for raw veggies. And while it’s most commonly associated with pasta, my favorite way to eat it is actually with eggs and toast. Anyone else with me on that one? Oh, my mom also puts it on salmon… so good! In terms of savory food, it pretty much goes on everything. And, since scallions, peas, and other pesto-ready herbs are popping up at farmers markets, I wanted to make you a spring version of pesto. Spring basil pesto with peas and scallions, to be exact. And walnuts and garlic and lemon and olive oil 🙂
There are some really good options for storebought pesto, but it’s actually very easy to make if you have a food processor or quality high-speed blender. Basic pesto is traditionally made with some ratio of basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil (like this Easy Homemade Pesto), but there are so many ways you can modify it. I’ve seen pesto with cilantro and pepitas, peas and mint, arugula and cashews, among other combinations. You can sub out the pine nuts for other nuts (which is often more budget-friendly), change up the herb or even replace with other greens (think kale, arugula, garlic scape), leave out the parmesan or sub in another hard cheese… pretty much whatever! I don’t recommend leaving out the garlic, though; that one’s kind of essential for unbeatable flavor.
A Few Variations on Pesto
Here are a few variations on pesto that I recommend:
- Lemony Pea Pesto from Love and Lemons
- Cilantro-Pepita Pesto with Squash Ribbons and Fettuccine from Cookie and Kate
- Arugula Cashew Pesto from the Run Fast East Slow cookbook (my sister-in-law/brother got this for me for Christmas, and I highly, HIGHLY recommend it!)
So, at first I attempted to make you a basil pesto with avocado, but I found that it browned way too quickly in the fridge, even with lemon juice. It’d be fine if you were going to use it all right away… but I didn’t want to give you a pesto that needed to be used immediately. Plus after it got brown, it tasted totally sketch. So let’s just call it for what it is: a failed first attempt (usually how I learn :)).
The addition of avocado was an attempt to branch away from traditional pesto, but I figured I could still going beyond the basic by incorporating seasonal produce (peas and scallions), eliminating the parmesan (which you could totally still add in if you want a salty component, but be sure to add more olive oil so it doesn’t get too chunky and dry), and using walnuts instead of pine nuts. I left mine a little on the chunky side, but feel free to add more olive oil to smooth it out. I’ve even read that blanching the basil leaves makes a super smooth pesto, buuut that means extra effort 😉
Once you’ve got your ingredients, it’s as simple as throwing them into a food processor and giving it a good whir. The nice thing about pesto is that it’s not really scientific as to the ratio of ingredients. If you want to brighten it up with a little more lemon or make it a little more salty, go for it! Follow your taste buds.
And there you have it. Spring basil pesto for all the things you’re eating this week! And in case you need some thoughts on how to use it…
Some Ideas for Spring Basil Pesto
- Chicken, steak, fish
- Pasta, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles
- Veggies (grilled, oven-roasted, raw, steamed, sautéed, etc.)
- Eggs & toast (I’m serious!)
Spring Basil Pesto with Peas and Scallions
A springy pesto with basil, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, scallions, peas, lemon and a bit of salt.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 10 mins
- Yield: 8
- 1 1/2 cups basil leaves
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped scallions, green parts only (about 2 scallions)
- 3/4 cup green peas (thawed if frozen)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust lemon and salt to taste. If adding olive oil for a smoother pesto, add 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse mixture in between.
- Enjoy on pasta, toast, fish, chicken, veggies, pizza, anything!
Keeps in fridge for about two weeks.
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