Summer pasta with basil and avocado pea pesto
( SERVES 3 )
Photo by Tam West
In summer there are two vegetables that I find easy to grow which tend to get a bit out of control, courgettes and peas. This gorgeous dish showcases both in a fresh light pasta-style dish that makes for a wonderful addition to any feast or barbecue. It’s filled with fresh herbs and citrus notes and it looks and tastes like summer.
It makes use of the courgette flowers. It could be deemed frivolous to sacrifice a potential courgette but by the time you’ve had courgettes 10 different ways you might feel a little differently. The flowers make any dish look rather lovely and when it comes to your meals, looks do count. If you’ve never tried courgette flowers give it a go, they taste great on their own stuffed with nut cheese or this basil and avo pea pesto.
This recipe is based on one in my first book, The Unbakery. It’s one of the recipes people always tell me they make and love; it’s simple to prepare and the taste is so much more flavourful than you might think for a meal which is essentially all greens. We put it on the menu each summer in the cafe and it receives a very welcome reception each time.
For the zucchini noodles
|4||Zucchini, used up to 5, small-medium size, yellow or green, ends trimmed|
|1 handful||Mint, torn|
|1 handful||Basil, torn|
|1 handful||Parsley, torn|
|2 handfuls||Sugar snaps, or use snow peas, sliced lengthways|
|1 handful||Baby spinach|
|¼ cup||Green olives, whole, slice the flesh off the stone after measuring (the Sicilian ones have a nice grassy flavour)|
|4||Courgette flowers, use up to 6|
|¼ cup||Pine nuts, lightly toasted|
Basil and avocado pea pesto
- Spiralise the zucchini to make zucchini noodles. If you don't have a vegetable spiraliser you can use a peeler to cut the courgette into wide strips then julienne with a knife. Set aside.
- Coat the zucchini noodles with the pesto (below). It should be reasonably easy to coat and not form clumps — if it does, add a little more olive oil or lemon juice to get things moving.
- Gently fold through the herbs, sliced sugar snaps, rocket, spinach and olives. Serve topped with pine nuts and courgette flowers.
To make the pesto
- Blanch the peas in hot water for 2 minutes. Drain and place in ice water. If using frozen peas, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 2 minutes. Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt, the mint, basil and parsley in a pestle and mortar, then add the peas and continue to pound until they break down. Alternatively pulse in a food processor. Fold in the avocado and crush lightly with the pestle until combined but still with some texture. Turn out into a bowl and gently add oil — you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.
- Taste it for seasoning. It will need approx ¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes or a little more if the peas are really sweet. Pour in some more oil if needed and add bit of nutritional yeast if you wish. Add the lemon juice and a teaspoon of zest and mix together.