Sunday, February 8, 2009
Do you ever have those moments at the market – mainly the farmers market for me – when you buy something, having absolutely no idea how you’re going to use it? I do this all the time. In fact, I do it almost every time I enter a market. I get drawn in by beautiful colors, the freshness of the produce or often just the novelty of something I haven’t worked with before.
I had the epitome of one of these moments at the farmers market last week. Even though my list was already crossed off, I returned to one of the stalls to look for smaller onions. Upon entering I noticed something I had not seen the first time around – pea shoots! I don’t think they’ve been at my market before and I’ve never cooked with them, but I had to have them. They were a gorgeous green with fresh, firm stalks that had the most delicate trailing tendrils. It may have been my overexcited imagination, but I’m pretty sure they still had garden dew on them too.
In most cases, when I have these “moments” I spend the next few days trying to figure out how to use the purchased item, wondering why I had bought something I had no planned use for, yet again. Not so this time! It was only a matter of hours before I got a shot of inspiration.
While working on a puff pastry tart for a date with a group of friends, I realized I really needed a sauce to serve as the base. I dismissed tapenade as not everyone loves olives (they’re crazy, but it’s true) and decided a pesto would be perfect. Unfortunately I had no arugula or basil, my usual pesto bases, but I did have pea shoots. And what if I could turn those into Pesto?
A quick internet search revealed that I’m not quite the genius I thought I was and this has in fact been done before. Even so, not that many hits came up and since it would be a new experiment for me, ahead I trudged.
The resulting pesto was delicious. This is trite, but it really tasted like spring in my mouth. Fresh, like cut grass, it hinted at the approaching season when markets will be bursting with all that spring has to offer. For now, I’m happy with my Pea Shoot Pesto to tide me over.
Pea Shoot Pesto
1 bunch (about 8 oz) pea shoots
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
Add first five ingredients to a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. You may not need a full half cup. Just keep drizzling until the pesto comes together and reaches a consistency you like. Remove the lid from the processor and stir in the parmesan by hand.