Welcome to 'Peas Everywhere' Season: Pea Pesto with Crispy Prosciutto
What is more exciting than seeing that first bright green snappy pea pod in a grocery store of farmers market? If your automatic thought is "um absolutely anything?" then maybe today's post is not for you.
BUT if you're thinking "honestly Olivia, I am not sure what could be!!" then please read on!
You could probably guess which camp I fall into. This past Sunday I was delighted to see that first basket of fresh green peas, ready for shucking and snacking and whatever else lies ahead of them. I had no plans for them but of course bought a solid handful. I always shuck them immediately upon arriving home to save space in the fridge (condo life!). This batch ended up in salads (tomato cucumber salad with herbs, greens and tuna salad) but they often land in pasta and frittata, maybe with pancetta in some capacity? All great ideas. Today I want to chat about the bright and fresh beauty that is pea pesto.
Pesto made with peas is a bit thicker and richer, just because of the starch that is present in peas, and not in basil (or any other herb). It's a different quality than a traditional pesto, but one that I think is quite welcome. Of course you can make this pesto with frozen peas, but something about using anything in season feels a bit more special. I also recognize that fresh peas requires a few more steps (shucking, blanching) so you decide based on what you have time and energy for (no judgement!). This can be used on toast, crostini, with a simple white fish, with a white bean situation, and most commonly with pasta. If using a pasta, I would choose a small short option like a farfalle or casarecce (my personal fave) or fusilli. Because peas are legumes, they work magically with pork too, making crispy prosciutto a perfect pairing for pea pesto pasta. So if you're feeling a little extra, I'm sharing recipe for the whole thing: pea pesto with crispy prosciutt.
½ cup green peas (thawed if from frozen and blanched if from fresh)
2 garlic cloves
Large pinch Kosher salt
1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
¼ cup chives, roughly chopped
¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
½-3/4 cup olive oil
4 slices of prosciutto
a large handful of grated parmigiano for serving
1/2 - 3/4 package (about 300g) short pasta (ex fusilli, farfalle, casarecce)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lay prosciutto flat (don't overlap the slices) on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Roast prosciutto for 8-10 minutes, until crisped. It will continue to crisp as it cools, so do not over bake them and risk burning them. Allow to cool slightly, then crumble the slices with your hands and set aside.
Boil a large pot of water. Salt once it comes to a boil.
If using fresh peas, blanche them in boiling salted water for about 30 seconds. Immediately plunge them into ice water, then drain.
In a blender or food processor, combine peas, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, lemon juice, pine nuts, and parmigiano. Begin to blend on low speed and slowly stream in the olive oil while increasing the speed. Blend until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.
If you're using this on toast or crostini, keep it a bit thicker and use a touch less olive oil.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. I typically suggest setting the timer for about 1 minute less than the package recommends and testing from there to ensure your pasta is nice and al dente. Save about 1/2 cup pasta water before you drain the pasta. Drain the pasta when it's cooked to your liking.
Combine the pasta, the pesto, about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and a good handful of parmigiano. Mix well to emulsify everything together. Add a touch more pasta water and / or pesto as you need. Once everything is combined, top each plate with more parmigiano and the crumbled prosciutto for crunch and salt. Enjoy!