Green Pea Pesto

By Claire Thomson From the book The Five O'Clock Apron
Green Pea Pesto

If I never see another jar of pesto it will be too soon. I can appreciate the speed and ease of boiling pasta and spooning sauce from a jar, but jarred pesto sauces are too salty and give little in the way of nutritional value. Pesto in a jar has hijacked the supermarket shelves and home fridges of a generation. There is another way. Pesto doesn’t have to be made with basil – and purists who insist otherwise, I say, ‘More fool, you.’ In the time it takes for the pasta to cook, depending on shape, the following pesto recipe can be made from scratch. 

For how many? Serves 4


  • 400g defrosted frozen peas
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • 1 small bunch of fresh mint, leaves roughly chopped
  • ¼–½ clove of garlic, crushed (to taste, remembering raw garlic is quite pervasive)
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 300g dried pasta (orecchiette or conchiglie would be my preference here)


1. Pour the peas into a wide, shallow bowl and cover with boiling water.

2. Drain the peas once softened. They don’t need to be hot.

3. In a blender, or using a stick blender, blitz the peas with the crème fraîche, mint leaves, garlic, lemon and olive oil. Pulse the mix – it is nice to have a bit of pea texture and for it not to be too homogenous. Alternatively, reserve about a third of the frozen peas and add them whole to the whizzed mass.

4. Once blitzed to the desired consistency, stir in the grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

5. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain.

6. Put the pea sauce into the pasta pan and stir over a moderate heat for 30 or so seconds, to take the chill off. Add the cooked pasta, mix well and serve in bowls, with extra Parmesan. 

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