Inspiration / Food & Wine

Recipe: Pasta with Pea and Mint Pesto

Contents

Steve Farrow Steve Farrow / 03 April 2020

Store Cupboard Staples with Steve Farrow, our Resident Wine Without Fuss Food and Wine Man

As spring leaps like a superhero into view, no doubt bursting with sunshine and, I fervently hope, one of those unexpected mini heatwaves that will allow me to sit in the garden, glass in hand, I thought that a recipe which brings a bit of Italian warmth to meet England’s green and pleasant peas at the dinner table might be nice. As a bonus, it requires ingredients that there is a good chance you have in your cupboard, fridge and quite possibly garden.

If frozen peas aren’t a fixture of every freezer in the land, I don’t know what will be, and this recipe makes them into something a little more unusual and, dare I suggest it, delicious than being the mere sidekick to bangers and mash or roast lamb. These little emeralds are packed with goodness, taste sweet and look gorgeous! What’s not to like?

Parmesan is always in my fridge, but if you don’t have any you can use other cheeses. Feta works beautifully with its salty tang, as does the lactic liveliness of Lancashire, Cheshire, Wensleydale. And hard sheep cheeses like Manchego or Berkswell will do the business too. Cheddar and the like are less successful but you could experiment with them. As for the oil, a good, nutty rapeseed could stand in for the olive oil if that’s your bag, though the sweet green flavours and colours are a little less vibrant. As for the mint, I know that mint sauce from a jar doesn’t have the vividly fresh flavour and scent of the plucked leaf, but if you haven’t been able to lay your hands on the leaves or don’t have a pot in the garden, then a jar will do, as the ingredients list explains below. Also, basil can substitute for mint, and parsley too with a touch of that mint from a jar.

As for the pasta, the pesto works with most types, though spaghetti or linguini are good. Pasta shapes will catch the sauce very satisfyingly too, depending on how chunky or smooth you’ve made it and the shape you have. I am assuming that some of you have pasta, though it was a scarcity for a moment there! If you’re not a pasta fan, the pesto also makes a delicious bruschetta topping spread thickly over slices of toasted or, even better griddled, crusty bread.

Pasta with Pea & Mint Pesto

Serves 4

Pasta with Pea and Mint Pesto

Ingredients

  • 300g frozen peas (fresh peas podded will work too, when in season)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or minced (optional)
  • 75g pine nuts or roughly chopped almonds, toasted (you could use toasted hazelnuts for a stronger nut flavour)
  • 60g fresh Parmesan, grated (if you don't have Parmesan you can use pecorino or even feta for a tangy change, or mix them up)
  • A good handful fresh mint leaves (or basil, or parsley). If you don't have fresh mint use 2 tsp mint sauce from a jar without vinegar added
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (this is flexible; see how the mixture looks to you)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400g dried spaghetti or any pasta you like
  • Juice of ¼ of a lemon

To serve

  • Extra virgin olive oil (use the best you have for dressing the dish, it really pays off)

Method

Boil water in a large pan for the pasta, adding an unstinting pinch of salt.

In another saucepan bring unsalted water to boil, add the frozen peas and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the peas are warmed through. Pour into a colander so that they drain well. If you are not making the pesto immediately at this point, tip them into cold water to stop them cooking and to help set the colour to vibrant green but bring them to room temperature before the next stage.

Put the peas into a food processor and add the garlic (if using), pine nuts or almonds, Parmesan/Pecorino or Feta, mint and olive oil. Taste and then season if needed with salt and freshly ground black pepper but be careful as the cheese is salty. Pulse the blender to break down the mixture, a bit of texture is good, but the smoothness level is up to you. Once it is blended to your taste tip into a large bowl, squeeze in the lemon juice and stir well.

In the large pan of salted boiling water cook your chosen pasta until al dente and drain, keeping back a tablespoon or so of the cooking water. Tip the steaming pasta and the reserved cooking water into the pesto mixture and toss well, before piling into warmed bowls. Serve at once with the extra cheese of choice and the olive oil for dressing at the table.

If you find you have more pesto than you need it will freeze very well after you've pulsed it and before adding lemon juice.

Wine Recommendation

Of course you may not have a fully replenished wine rack right now, so make the most of what you have. But as a rule a properly fresh and fruity white would be perfect for this dish to chime with the fresh flavours, toasty nuts and salty cheese. The Society's Pinot Grigio or The Society's Falanghina would be ideal, with fruit to marry with the sweetness of the peas, and freshness for the cheese and herb element. They'd also be an appropriate hommage to the Italian roots of this dish. Another Italian gem worth trying is Pecorino d'Abruzzo with its stone-fruit flavour and zing.

Off-dry riesling is a lovely match too. Consider The Society's Saar Riesling 2017 or Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2018, and sauvignon blanc will be a delight with this too, particularly if you have incorporated the Feta. Crack open a bottle of Rata Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Bordeaux's Dourthe No 1 Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux 2018 or Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, Domaine de la Renaudie 2018 from the Loire. To be honest, almost any grassy, fruity sauvignon will be your friend with this one. Finally, give the Greeks a chance too, and deploy the fragrant, vivid charms of Mitravelas 'White on Grey' Moschofilero 2018.

If you can't countenance anything but red, look to those with freshness and fruit. Speziale Marsigliana Nera, Santa Venere 2018 is crammed with bright berry fruit and lightly chilled is utterly moreish. Saumur Rouge La Grande Réserve, Famille Bougrier 2017 and The Society's Beaujolais-Villages 2018 will both fit that brief too, being filled with fruit without losing vibrancy.

Find more of Steve's recipes

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.

Close

4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies:

4.4.4.1. Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended.

4.4.4.2. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit.

4.4.4.3. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic.

4.4.4.4. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.