DifficultyBeginner

Depending on where you live, late spring and early summer (as well as autumn) is the time when pea plants are starting to make their ascent up trellises and garden fences. Pea shots and pea tendrils are the delicate greens of the plant, which consist of the tender tips of the vines and include the stems and leaves. In order to harvest the shoots, start at the top of the vine. Then grab it gently by its tip and follow the stem downwards to the second leaf down. Look closely now at the leaf. Right at the point where it joins the main stem you will see a wee little green nub. Pinch right above that nub.
If you have followed my recipe blog for some time you will know of my love of pesto, made from a wide variety of ingredients. I have to say that this particular pesto is both unique and absolutely scrumptious. I dare say this might be one of my favourite pestos. If you do not have a garden, open air markets/ farmer’s markets will often have pea shoots/tendrils for sale. If not, you can substitute fresh or frozen peas for the shoots.
The two versions of this pesto taste equally delicious both the dairy free, vegan version or with Pecorino Romano, an aged Italian sheep’s milk cheese (my husband’s favourite). Various kinds of nuts work well in pesto. My favourites are: walnuts and pistachios, however almonds, cashews and pecans will also work. Pine nuts are traditional in pesto however they are so expensive and frequently of poor quality here so I no longer use them. If you can source inexpensive, high quality pine nuts where you are, they are wonderfully buttery in pesto. You can also use roasted/toasted nuts in pestos. However I usually make pesto with raw, un-toasted/roasted nuts. Pumpkin seeds are my favourite, nut-free seed to make pestos.
Pesto can be enjoyed so many ways, as a sauce for pasta, in sandwiches or wraps, on crackers as an appetizer or as a dip for crackers, pita chips or vegetables, such as on a charcuterie tray.

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Yields12 Servings
Prep Time10 minsTotal Time10 mins
 1 large handful pea shoots and tendrils or use 1/2 cup fresh or frozen, preferably organic peas
 2 large handfuls flat Italian parsley leaves, stems removed
 1 small handful mint leaves
 ½ cup shelled pistachios
 2 garlic cloves
 2 pinches sea salt
 ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
 juice of 1 large lemon
 ¾ cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated*optional
1

Add all of the ingredients up to, and including the lemon juice to a food processor (or use a mortar and pestle) and pulse briefly until you have a course textured mixture. Be sure not to over-pulse as this will result in a very unpleasant smooth paste. You can use a blender to make pesto, however it is more challenging with a blender to avoid a paste like consistency. So just pay close attention if you’re using a blender.

2

Add the cheese if desired. Store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 4 months.

Ingredients

 1 large handful pea shoots and tendrils or use 1/2 cup fresh or frozen, preferably organic peas
 2 large handfuls flat Italian parsley leaves, stems removed
 1 small handful mint leaves
 ½ cup shelled pistachios
 2 garlic cloves
 2 pinches sea salt
 ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
 juice of 1 large lemon
 ¾ cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated*optional

Directions

1

Add all of the ingredients up to, and including the lemon juice to a food processor (or use a mortar and pestle) and pulse briefly until you have a course textured mixture. Be sure not to over-pulse as this will result in a very unpleasant smooth paste. You can use a blender to make pesto, however it is more challenging with a blender to avoid a paste like consistency. So just pay close attention if you’re using a blender.

2

Add the cheese if desired. Store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 4 months.

Pea Shoot Pesto