Every once in awhile an idea for a recipe pops into my head, and I can’t believe I hadn’t considered it before. On the one hand, I get a bit disappointed in myself for missing something so obvious. But then I think, ‘Who cares? This is going to be incredible!’ Today’s recipe came from one of those epiphanies. I wanted something bursting with Spring flavors, and this pea shoot and mint pesto does just that.
Pea shoots should be showing up at your local farmers market right now. If you haven’t tasted them before, please go buy some. These tasty little shoots are the young tendrils and leaves of the pea plant. They’re packed with nutrients, including vitamins A and C. And they’re wonderful on sandwiches, salads, mixed into stir fry, pureed into soups– and of course, in this pesto.
Mint and peas make a great combination– remember this carbonara? Pea shoots taste like fresh peas, but you don’t have to go through the fuss of shelling. Here, I blanched the pea shoots for a few seconds to brighten their color. I added a few mint leaves, and finished it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Do not leave out the lemon! It’s fine without, but we’re looking for better than ‘fine’ with this pesto.
A couple tips on the bruschetta: First, make sure you grill the bread. Season it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It makes a huge difference. I also recommend tearing– rather than cleanly slicing– the mozzerella. It creates nice crevices and curves to drizzle the olive oil into. I think it also happens to look much more interesting. The radishes add an additional pop of color and fresh crunch. Aside from using this pesto on bruschetta, you can add it to pasta. If you think it’s going to be too thick to toss with pasta, add a little more olive oil and remember to always reserve a bit of hot pasta water to get the texture you want. Either way, I think you’ll be happy with this fresh dish. Enjoy!
The Recipe: Bruschetta with Pea Shoot Mint Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella
Pea Shoot Mint Pesto:
1 1/2 cups packed pea shoots
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan or grana padano cheese
1/4 cup lightly toasted walnuts, chopped
1 garlic cloves
10 fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
hot pepper flakes, to taste
For the Bruschetta:
1-2 balls of fresh mozzarella
1 -2 cloves of garlic
extra-virgin olive oil
pea shoot mint pesto
handful of radishes, diced
Good quality rustic bread, sliced ( I used sour dough)
To make the pesto: Bring a medium sized saucepan filled with water to a small boil. Prepare an ice bath, set aside. Place the pea shoots in the hot water for 30 seconds. Remove immediately and submerge into the ice bath. Remove pea shoots from water and gently “wring” them out. It’s ok if they have a bit of water on them. Let cool.
Place the pea shoots, mint leaves, and 1 clove of garlic in a mini-food processor. Pulse a few times, until the greens are adequately chopped. Add the parmesan or grana padano and walnuts, pulse a few more times. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. You may need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the pesto is thoroughly combined, taste it. Stir in some salt, cracked pepper, hot pepper flakes, and a squeeze or two of lemon to brighten the pesto. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap placed directly on it.
To make the Bruschetta: Fire up your grill. Brush olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill and let it toast on each side until it is beautifully golden, but not burnt. Remove from the grill and while still hot, rub a clove of garlic on one side of the toast. Spread the pesto on that. Rip the mozzarella, to create crevices, and place on the pesto. Top with the chopped radishes. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt. Enjoy!
I’m currently in North Dakota with my kids — made the long 8 hour trip to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom. I hope all of you Moms out there have a wonderful day. Thanks to everyone for stopping in — see you next week!