I've mentioned pea shoot pesto here before in the briefest of passing and, for that, I'm sorry.
I'm sorry because it is one of my absolute favorite things to eat in early summer. I tripped upon a recipe in the New York Times back in May 2009 for the pesto; it sounded delicious but I dismissed it pretty quick. I mean, where am I going to get pea shoots?
I shouldn't have dismissed it so quickly, of course. The next time I was at Union Square, I found a stand with pea shoots. I approached the purveyors and mentioned the article in the Times for pea shoot pesto. Being the smart folks they are, they had a copy of the recipe and were able to tell me the exact amount of shoots I needed.
In 2010, pea shoot pesto was a regular feature at my table.
Here we are in 2011 and pea shoots are at the Union Square Greenmarket again. Greener Pastures are the folks to talk to - you'll know them by the yellow school bus behind their stand. They're known for their wheatgrass juice but I know them as my connection for pea shoots.
And wondering what the fuss is about with pea shoot pesto? Sometimes I find that basil pesto can be overwhelming and overly rich. Especially when paired with tomatoes - basil pesto can overpower the fantastic flavor of tomatoes in season. Pea shoot pesto has a brightness and delicacy to it that I like infinitely better than its basil sister. And pea shoot pesto is every bit as easy to make:
PEA SHOOT PESTO
from The New York Times
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. pine nuts
3 c. pea shoots
1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast pine nuts, tossing occasionally until golden, about 3 minutes.
In a food processor or blender combine pea shoots, pine nuts, cilantro, Parmesan, garlic and salt. Pulse until roughly chopped. With motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil; blend until well combined. Scrape pesto into a bowl. Taste for seasoning.
There have been a few times when I've forgotten to buy cilantro so I omitted it from the recipe; I have to admit that I didn't miss it much. So feel free to leave it out if you're cilantro-adverse. Likewise, last time I made this, I used fresh green garlic (instead of the dried kind you get at the supermarket) and it was incredible. I'd recommend it always in this recipe, but it's in season for a pretty short window so you'll likely have to forge ahead with regular garlic.
The NYT recipe pairs the pesto with pork chops, which sounds really amazing. However, like a kid who eats all the cookie dough before making cookies, I've never gotten that far with this recipe. I love to serve it on grilled bread (you know me and the grilled bread recipes!) with a few slivers of shaved Parmesan on top. I also loved it with a slice of prosciutto over the pesto, and you can see in the (rather dark) photo above that I also topped it with a fried egg. Add a salad, a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, and you have a light spring or summer meal.
Eat, drink, and experiment with pestos.