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Pea and Parsley Pesto

By Mark Mulcahy
Image of Organic Parsley
With its longer days, holidays and warm weather, June is a month that is ripe for snacking morning, noon or night. And produce from Melissa’s is the best snack choice around. After all, it is always healthy for you, low in calories, and bursting with flavor. Really, what’s not to like?

The interesting part comes when you ask someone what his or her favorite early summer produce snacking item is? Some blurt it out as soon as the question leaves your mouth, while others ponder as if they are drifting back to their childhood. For instance, watermelon was a popular choice when I asked around the room in Burlington, VT while teaching a seminar the other day.

Eaten in many ways – sliced, cut into chunks, with a spoon using it as the bowl, served with a little lime juice and cayenne pepper, or as a friend once told me watermelon is best served with a hammock and shady tree. Now there is a snack idea I can really climb into!
Image of Organic Sugar Snap Peas
Watermelon is usually just getting started in June but English Peas are in full swing; I could eat a whole bowl of ‘em by myself right from the pod and into my mouth. While they are delicious fresh, they also make a heck of a good pesto if you are looking for a fresh tasting meal. Try this Pea & Parsley Pesto recipe I adapted from Week Night Gourmet if you love parsley, peas, and pesto you will fall in love with this recipe.

You’ll need:

2 cups Organic Fresh English Peas
1 cup packed Melissa’s Organic Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
3 organic garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and pepper
12 oz. linguine

To prepare:

Cook 1-cup peas.

In a food processor, combine cooked peas, parsley, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, and 1-tablespoon water. Pulse until a paste forms. With machine running, slowly add oil, processing until blended; season with salt and pepper.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, adding your other fresh cup of peas 30 seconds before end of cooking.

Reserving 1 cup of pasta water; drain pasta and peas. Return pasta and peas to pot and toss with ¾ cup pesto (reserve remainder for another use), adding enough pasta water to create a sauce that coats the pasta.

Serve pasta with more Parmesan
Serves 4.

Cooking note:

If you haven’t cooked fresh peas before, it’s fairly quick and easy to do.

After you have shelled your peas from their pods, place them in a bowl near your pot filled with just enough water to reach the bottom of a steamer basket.

Bring the water to a full boil.

Place the shelled peas in the basket; making sure no water is coming up through the holes in the steamer.

Place cover on saucepan and cook for 2 minutes. Do not overcook! Peas should be crisp-tender when done and bright green in color.

Remove the steamer basket from the saucepan with hot pad and pour peas into a serving bowl to use in the recipe.

Getting back to snacking, how about red, purple, or rainbow bunched radishes sliced with a little sprinkle of salt layered on top of a fresh baguette slice with fresh organic butter? Another friend gets her favorite snack idea from her grand parents and East coast roots – fresh picked blueberries and heavy cream. I can see how that would be habit forming. I told her if she lets that secret out she might have company at her bowl. Especially since blueberries are coming from California now.

Though July peaches are my favorite fruit (yes I think there is a difference in peach varieties and when they are grown) June is the time when we start seeing the first good organic peaches in the market. I think my favorite snacking produce item is seedless red and green grapes, so easy, so tasty, and so fun. But if I had to choose a veggie it would probably be sungold cherry tomatoes. Both of these items start out firm and round and with a gentle bite, burst their goodness into your mouth. Bunches and baskets of these get consumed in one sitting around my house this time of year.

How about these snack ideas:
  • A big, thick slice of rich, red tomato, or perhaps whole eaten like an apple, warm and juicy, mmm…
  • California grown cucumbers, instead of crackers, with a little fresh sour cream dip.
  • A bag of blue lake beans is a crispy afternoon appetizer, either raw or slightly steamed.
  • Steamed chard roll ups stuffed with cilantro, hummus and fresh corn.
  • Snap peas instead of peanuts for the baseball game, the list goes on and on...
What’s your favorite? What’s your best friend’s favorite? How about your Mom? Can you name theirs? It’s fun to ask, and you may be surprised by the answer.

Whatever it is, Melissa’s will have the best, fresh, organic produce available for your snacking pleasure all summer long.

So what are you waiting for? Let the snacking begin!
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