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  • Writer's pictureYiannoulla Burness

Green Pea Basil Pasta

Basil is a herb I always have growing in my garden, at the moment it is plentiful and needing to be used in a pesto. Basil along with parsley, pine nuts and seasonings makes an easy and tasty herb sauce, pesto, which can be used to add flavour to many dishes. I am using it tossed through pasta but it can also be used as a salad dressing, marinade, mixed in soups, dolloped on pizza, layered in a raw lasagna and many other uses. There are different varieties of basil all unique with their own flavour. Sweet basil is the most common and is more widely used for its sweet slightly spicy flavour. I have paired the basil pesto with sweet green peas they go well together. I usually make pesto in a food processor but this time I used a mortar and pestle and it came out nice and creamy.

Before I made the basil pesto I was interested to find a way of preventing the pesto turning dark green to brown in colour. Let me know if you have had this problem as well. It doesn't alter the taste but makes your dish look less appealing. I read up about it and tried two methods to prevent the basil from discolouring.

Method one is blanching. I usually like to keep the ingredients all raw when making basil pesto but in order to keep it green I blanched the basil leaves in boiling hot water for a few seconds, then quickly removed with a slotted spoon and placed into a basin with ice cubes and ice water for 30 seconds then removed leaves and patted dry.

Method two is lemon juice. Add two teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to each cup of fresh basil leaves in a recipe.

Both these methods work give them a go.


BASIL: sweet basil the most common basil used in recipes and provides you with vitamins and minerals and a number of antioxidants.

PARSLEY: a tasty herb used to add flavour and health benefits to your dish. Two of the most powerful antioxidants for our body are beta-carotene and vitamin C, parsley contains high levels of both. It also has powerful anti inflammatory and anti-arthritic benefits.

PINE NUTS: are small elongated seeds with a sweet buttery flavour. They are rich in vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. You can swap them out for another nut such as walnut, macadamia or pistachio nuts.

GARLIC: has so many health benefits including helping to reduce high blood pressure. Helps reduce cholesterol levels. Boosts the immune system. Has antibiotic properties and helps detox your body.

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: is loaded with heart healthy fats and antioxidants.

GREEN PEAS: give colour and sweetness to the dish. Peas are low in calories and a good source of protein and fibre. They are high in potassium, magnesium, folate, iron and vitamins A,C,K.

LEMON: zest is more concentrated than lemon juice, keep that in mind when adding lemon to a dish. There are different types of lemons some being more acidic than others. Lemons are great source of vitamin C and offer a range of health benefits.

VARIATION: You may like to add nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan for a more cheesy flavour.

EQUIPMENT: Mortar and pestle or food processor


37g or 1 1/4 cups compacted fresh basil leaves

15g or 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley

90g or 1/2 cup pine nuts

15g or 3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2-1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

130g or 1 cup frozen green peas (thawed)

1 teaspoon lemon zest or pickled lemon (optional)

Pasta of choice enough for 2-4 people


*Place blanched or fresh basil leaves into a mortar with Italian parsley, pine nuts, fresh garlic cloves and salt.

*Using a pestle pound the ingredients into small pieces and then use a grinding motion to turn into a paste. Keep mashing away until you get the consistency and texture you are after.

*Next slowly add in olive oil and mix through the basil mix forming a rich sauce.

* Check you have enough salt.

*Now you can add in lemon zest or the juice of a lemon if you like, it is optional.

*Cook pasta in salted water according to packet instructions.

At the end of cooking time drain water from pasta reserving 1 - 2 tablespoon of the cooking water.

*Add pasta back into the cooking pot add saved cooking water and then add basil pesto, stir through the pasta to coat. Add green peas that have thawed and toss gently, garnish with fresh basil leaves just before serving

*For food processor add basil leaves, Italian parsley, pine nuts, garlic and salt and process until broken down into a paste. With motor running slowly pour in extra virgin olive oil until incorporated. Remove and put into a bowl add lemon zest or lemon juice and give a stir.

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