June 04, 2008

Pea Shoot Pesto

1/4 lb fresh, young pea shoots
1 bunch Spring onion, chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts

to serve:
1 lb hot cooked pasta
3/4 lb peeled, steamed shrimp (optional)
garnish: additional pea shoots

Place the pea shoots, onion, cheese, olive oil, pinenuts salt and pepper in a food processor or blender, pulse until a thick paste forms. Toss with 1 lb cooked pasta, additional pea shoots and shrimp.

Yield: about 4 servings

My thoughts:

You can't get a quicker meal during the warm weather months than pesto. In this version, verdant pea shoots (or pea greens or pea vines depending on what you want to call them) combine with the Spring onions to create the freshest tasting pesto I've ever had. It is mild but intensely flavorful. The shrimp isn't 100% needed, but they do add a little texture interest (and little bursts of flavor!) to the dish.

Quick notes about the ingredients:
Pea shoots or pea greens are the top parts of the pea plant. For this dish, use only young, tender shoots. More mature (and fibrous) pea shoots (often found in Asian markets) need to be cooked before eating. Pea shoots taste sort of like the pod part of snow peas.

Spring onions have a larger, more rounded and defined bulb than green onions or scallions, but either of those would be an adequate substitute if Spring onions are unavailable.