MONTVILLE, NJ - This is an easy recipe that has simple, fresh flavors and takes no time at all to make.  I thought a quick, simple dish might be nice given the past few recipes were a bit longer and more involved.  Nothing says spring like fresh peas.  Beyond simply enjoying peas cooked quickly on their own or tossed into salads, etc. peas also make a great pesto.  The sweet earthiness of the peas really complement the saltiness of the cheese and they blend beautifully.  Mint pairs nicely with peas as well to round everything out.  Enjoy this easy dish as a dip with bread or crackers or toss it into pasta as you would a classic basil pesto.  You won’t be disappointed either way!

Ingredients:

2 Cups blanched fresh peas or frozen peas, thawed

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¾ Cups unsalted walnuts, toasted

½ Cup grated aged pecorino cheese

¼ Cup chopped fresh mint leaves

¼ Cup (or more to taste) olive oil

1 green onion, chopped finely

1 Clove garlic, chopped finely

Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Dash red wine vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Pickled onions for garnishing dip, optional

Instructions:

  • If using fresh peas, blanch them by bringing a small pot of water to boil and once boiling, cooking the peas for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Immediately drain the peas and plunge them into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Once cooled completely, drain and set aside.  If using frozen peas, thaw them completely and then proceed to the next step.
  • Toast the walnuts by placing them in a small skillet over low heat.  Allow them to toast and brown, stirring occasionally to avoid burning them.  They are done when they begin to release a bit of their natural oil and begin to smell toasted, about 8 minutes.
  • Place the peas, toasted walnuts, pecorino cheese, mint leaves, and chopped green onion in a food processor.  Pulse until well incorporated.
  • Turn the food processor fully on and slowly add the olive oil until you reach a fairly smooth puree.  Add a touch of salt and red pepper flake to the pesto.  Add the dash of red wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice into the pesto as well.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary to suit your taste.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for several hours to allow flavors to meld together.  Serve cold or at room temperature as a dip or use in any dish that calls for traditional pesto.
  • If using as a dip, garnish with a few pickled onions and a drizzle of olive oil over the top if desired for added color and to enhance flavors.

Craig Thiebaud is a Diplomat of Classic Culinary Arts at the International Culinary Center (formerly The French Culinary Institute) located in SOHO in New York City. After extensive training in the Art of French cooking and professional food preparation in general, he brings his knowledge of food and passion for cooking to us by sharing culinary techniques and creating recipes that mainly use local, seasonal ingredients and can be easily recreated in the home kitchen. Good, wholesome meals for the family can be created quickly with planning, using the best techniques with the best ingredients that are both affordable and available. Let's get back into the kitchen together!

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