A Time For Hope and Peas

Spring is here. On the sunny days it can feel like you’re standing on top of a mountain after a long hike. You made it. The air may be brisk, but it still feels crisp and clean: even in the city. For a moment you feel like you can do anything.

You’ve made it through the windburned cheeks, gray earth, and seemingly endless supply of winter squash. You’re ready for green: for fava beans, asparagus, and English peas. But this is New England. We have a good two months before we’ll see the likes of anything like that grown at an arm’s reach. Let’s face it.

Luckily, we’re a hardy bunch. We’ve been through worse. It’s rumored to snow tonight.

We’ve learned how to cope. We eat clam chowder. We wear coats the size of sleeping bags. We put long underwear on underneath our suit pants. We find ways to eat root vegetables that involve a shameful amount of cream. We carry on. We make do.

Which is just what I did over the weekend, when I was craving something green to usher in spring. I scoured the market for anything—imports included—that I could smash into a creamy green paste. I got a little ahead of myself. Other than some artichokes from California, I was pretty much out of luck in the seasonal green department.

So frozen peas it was. Which I didn’t feel too terrible about. Fresh peas are really bestand most sweeton the day they are picked; it will be awhile before I snag them at the farmers’ markets here. (Sigh) So I turned to basil and a hint of pernod for some sweetness. Like I said, we make do. And sometimes we eat frozen peas dressed in basil leaves to usher in spring. Given that it’s been bitterly cold here, I suppose a pea with a little chill on it is fitting. We are straddling seasons, one foot in winter and one in spring.

But that’s springtime in New England. It keeps you guessing. Some days it brings you hope and some days it brings you frozen peas. Today, I’m just happy to have the peas.

Pea Pesto

1 pound frozen peas
2 cups basil leaves, packed, and divided
3-4 slices bacon, plus about 1 tbsp bacon fat reserved
3 garlic cloves, minced
Splash of pernod (about 2-4 tbsp)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus additional for tossing
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring salted water to boil in a large sauce pan. Add frozen peas and cook until the water just about returns to boil. Meanwhile, fry up the bacon in a sauté pan until crispy and reserve 1 tbsp bacon fat. Drain bacon on paper towel. Wipe down sauté pan and add bacon fat to pan; cook garlic in fat about 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add pernod to the garlic and let alcohol burn off, about 1-2 minutes more. When water with peas is just about boiling, add 1/2 the basil leaves and cook for about 30 seconds more. Drain water and add peas and basil to kitchen aid or blender. Add olive oil, lemon juice, pecorino cheese and sautéed garlic; blend into a paste. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Toss pasta with pea pesto sauce and top with crispy bacon pieces and additional pecorino.

Makes about 2 cups pea pesto sauce

-This is also lovely as a topping for crusty bread and marinated artichokes


  1. I make ravioli with pea puree, but it's never occurred to me to make pea pesto. Talk about a "D'oh" moment! This is going on my must-try list!

  2. Pernod. Nice touch. Here's to the spring that doesn't come.

  3. Just found your blog and it looks wonderful! I look forward to many inspired meals. Thanks!

  4. I noticed one tiny bright, crocus out front when I got home from work today. So sad knowing it's going to get covered in snow tonight.

    Thank you for the frozen pea pesto recipe. I, too, am lusting for the fresh, bright greens of spring.

  5. I've been eating lots of salads in anticipation of spring...if it will ever get here!

  6. I love that you added bacon. And I'm also thinking this may be a way to slip peas to my veggie-hating (but pesto lovin') boyfriend? Can't wait to try it -- thanks!

  7. Ha! Cheers to spring, crocus, and a little pesto to make the peas go down. ;)

  8. Very interesting recipe. This looks so good and I have bookmarked this page!

  9. I love the idea of a pea pesto. It reminds me that I can almost plant peas!Here's to spring!

  10. peas are underused and unappreciated, and that's just sad. pea pesto over pasta is perfectly pleasurable. :)

  11. Mmm I love pesto...I am hungry just thinking about it! So, this sounds great!!