Here in the North of England Spring is finally trying to sprung. Today started off a balmy 5 degrees Celsius which means I’m not quite into full on salad mode just yet. I am however craving the fresh flavours of Spring vegetables. I decided to take the best of this seasons veg and come up with a few recipes to help me get my Spring vibe on. First up is my vegan Spring pesto pasta which hits the mark as a warm, zingy dish with loads of flavour and a light fresh texture.
I chose to go with classic British Spring staples:
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli
- Spring Onion
- Petit Pois
I’ll be using these same ingredients in a variety of ways to create more Spring vegetable recipes over the coming weeks so stay tuned. Obviously what’s in season for you will vary greatly depending on where you live. Take the time to do some research in your local area. Your taste buds and budget will thank you for it.
Vegan Spring Pesto
I feel the need to begin with a small disclaimer, I’m one of those strange people who finds relaxation in cooking. I know some of you will think that’s ridiculous but I can’t help it. I’m lulled by repetitive stirring and chopping. If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea of it then I’m willing to bet that you’re the very person in need of a little self soothing.
My version of this pesto is just such a recipe. It requires continuous, meditative chopping to bring together these fresh ingredients into something that couldn’t be further from the salty, oily, dairy laden supermarket variety.
This method results in a chunky, rustic pesto that allows for differing mouthfuls with every bite. The crunch of a wayward pine nut against a sliver of lemon zest. A salty flake of nooch beside the bitter, aniseed notes of basil. The pop of a sweet pea that missed the chopping block. Without the need for tons of oil the freshness of the ingredients are preserved and the dish stays light and zingy. Or you can just shove it all in the food processor if you’re stuck for time 😉
If you do make this in a processor you’ll be creating more of a traditional paste. You can achieve this by gradually adding part of the oil and lemon juice I use in the cooking stage into your pesto until you’re happy with the texture. Don’t forget to allow for that by reducing the amounts further on in the recipe.
I chose to go with oversized conchiglie to catch and hold the pesto. You can use any pasta you have to hand but bear in mind there’s less oil to make it stick than you may be used to in a traditional pesto. For this reason I think conchiglie or farfalle are the best options.
When it comes to cooking the vegetables medium high heat and fast stir-fry is the way to keep this dish feeling fresh. I like my broccoli and asparagus with plenty of bite. If you watch the YouTube recipe video you’ll see I also use frozen, slightly defrosted peas in my pesto so as not to overcook them when added into the pasta to heat through.
If you prefer your vegetables a little softer then simply cook them for a few minutes longer before adding in the cooked pasta. You can also lightly cook and cool your peas before chopping into the pesto. Take extra care not to overcook them or they might resemble mushy peas rather than sweet little petit pois.
What’s in season in your neck of the woods? Let me know what’s cooking in the comments below.