Sweet Pea Pesto

July 30, 2010


Lucky for me, peas were on sale last week for 3 euros a kilo. Even luckier, I’ve got some kind of spongy memory bank that, when it comes to recipes, sops up the good stuff and stores it far, far away, apparently, somewhere in my subconscious. So when I decided to make this little pea pesto, I knew how I wanted to put it together, but I didn’t know where I’d gotten the idea.

When I tasted it, I thought I was gonna die. This bright green sweet pea-Parmesany stuff was one of the best things I’d ever spread on top of bread (besides that Speculoos crack that they sell near the cash register at the Franprix).

I knew that I was not this brilliant. So I looked in my email box, and found one recipe by La Tartine Gourmande that’s similar, but more of a pea-hummus sort of thing. Was that where I got the idea, I wondered? No, it couldn’t be. I’d had a sticky note with the word, PEAS, on my wall for more than a month now, to remind me to buy them when I went to the market.

Then, finally, after clicking on a few favorite blogsites, I found the source of this incredible pea paste, or pesto, if you will. Or peaness, if you want to get all Michael Procopio on me, which is where I saw the idea first, almost two months ago, on his hilarious blog, Food for the Thoughtless.

Michael’s the man. He’s the one with the peaness. Not me.

See? We’re all connected. Everything is derivative. We all borrow from each other, reinterpret, add to, or take away from. And in some cases — even without knowing it — we steal.

Michael uses garlic, and I don’t, and I use mint where he uses chives and lemon zest, so is my version mine or an adaptation of his? Or is it inspired by?

What else has my subconscious picked up and run away with without telling me, I wonder?

I read a long post the other day by Dianne Jacob about this very thing — where recipes come from, and how we should attribute. It’s something that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to, because I’m in the midst of writing my first cookbook, and I’m very aware that I’m influenced by everything around me. For the record, I’m trying the best I can to try to remember where it all springs from in the vast emptiness otherwise known as my brain, and to give credit where credit’s due.

So Michael, Beatrice Peltre/La Tartine Gourmande, the man at the market with the 3 euro peas, and Darty, where I got my dreamy baby silver food processor, thank you. Thank you all for making my life a little more delicious.

Now, please pass me that pea spread/pesto/peaness or whatever you want to call it and let’s eat.

Sweet Pea Pesto


1 kilo/2 pounds fresh peas
½ cup Parmesan, shredded
6 leaves mint
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt

1. Shell the peas. (I got about 4 cups from my batch, and this will vary depending on the size of your peas.)

2. Put a medium-size pot of salted water onto boil. When it boils, drop in the peas and set the timer for 2 minutes. While the peas are cooking, fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water.

3. When the timer goes off, drain the peas in a colander, and put them in the ice water bath.

4. Make the pesto. In a food processor, add the drained peas and the rest of the ingredients and pulse just until combined (this is meant to be coarse rather than smooth). Put in the fridge for an hour or two to let the flavors come together.

Serve on top of grilled flatbread or country bread for maximum fun and fabulousness.


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Steff @ The Kitchen Trials July 30, 2010 at 9:56 AM

Food and recipes are something that bring almost all of us together. I count myself lucky to have found your blog and met you thanks to our shared love of food and recipes (and let’s not even get started on ruled notebooks). So… Thank you for being one of my inspirations in the kitchen. Now, please excuse me. I need to update my grocery list so I can make some version of this dish this weekend.

Michael Procopio July 30, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Well, if this isn’t just the nicest birthday to wake up to. ..

Thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever been the subject of anyone’s blog post before, so I was a little (happily) stunned when I woke up this morning to find this.

Though I might have whipped up the peaness spread in my head, I’m sure that I, too was inspired by others. Inspiration is have the fun of cooking.

The whole #peaness thing was passed on to me by Sean Timberlake and Anita & Cameron Crotty, who happen to keep two of my (other) favorite food blogs:



Thank you so much for my birthday present!


Michael Procopio July 30, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Present. Birthday PRESENT. I still need my coffee.

Dianne Jacob July 30, 2010 at 12:43 PM

It’s not my birthday but this is a nice surprise for me too. Thanks for the link.

I have now investigated the hilarious Michael Procopio, who, it turns out, lives near me. Small world.

But let’s get back to you. You have done a fine job of passing on credit for who and what inspired you. That is sufficient and certainly more than what many bloggers post.

Good luck with your cookbook, Ellise.

Michael Procopio July 30, 2010 at 1:06 PM


I even took a Writing Salon class from you about seven years ago. It’s an even smaller world than previously suspected.

Anita / Married ...with dinner July 30, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Yay, peaness in Paris. What could be sweeter? :)

Julie July 31, 2010 at 8:52 AM

This looks so delicious Ellise. Can’t wait to make it! The whole peaness thing reminds me of something very funny that happened at Food Arts years ago but I’ll save that story for when I see you. xxx

Amy Miller July 31, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Sounds De-vine. Glad you were able to track down the source to give credit. I figure food is a form of art and there are really very little original ideas, most are just a conglomeration of what we’ve seen and tasted all whirrled up in our brains. Thanks for the yummy idea and recipe. Now I conjure up the bumper sticker “Visualize whirrled peas”

A Tiger In The Kitchen April 23, 2011 at 8:43 AM

Thanks for sharing this, Ellise — it looks delicious! And I’d been looking for a good summer recipe to serve at cocktail parties. This looks perfect for the season. And congrats on your cookbook, too! You must let me know the details…and how I can help! Can’t wait to see it and cook from it. xxx

Stephanie April 25, 2011 at 4:20 PM

MMmmmmmm….so good!!! I bought too many peas this weekend and remembered your post.

My kids and I were fighting over the last bits of pesto and I am already planning to buy too many peas again soon :)

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