Inspiration is everywhere! This past week I was inspired by an old recipe that I wanted to refresh with a healthier twist.
The recipe was a Pea Pesto Crostini that I made over 3 years ago (instagram says it was 166 weeks ago), when I was just starting to prepare food.
If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE peas. I could happily eat them at every meal.
“Elyse, eat your peas”
Not a fan? Let me try to convince you with a few health highlights:
- Low in fat and high in fiber, micro-nutrients, and protein (the reason pea protein powder has become so popular!)
- helps with weight management
- good for blood sugar regulation
- fiber helps to keep you “regular” 😉
- Stomach cancer prevention
- High levels of antioxidants
- benefits: heart disease prevention, anti-aging, energy and immune boost
- prevention of Alzheimer, wrinkles, arthritis, bronchitis, and heart disease (which are linked to excess inflammation)
- Reduces bad cholesterol
- High levels of Vitamin K and B vitamins which help with calcium absorption and creates healthy bones and prevents osteoporosis.
- Also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and lutein (for your eyes).
DID YOU KNOW: Peapods are botanically a fruit? They carry seeds developed from a flower. What a powerhouse! It’s almost like eating your fruits and veggies at once 😉
Whew, that was a lot. Now, where was I? Ah yes, the pesto.
My goal was simple. Make this “appetizer” more of a complete meal (by adding things like beans, pasta, and veggies), replace the 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese and at least reduce the 1/3 cup olive oil.
Don’t think I can do it? Don’t believe me, just watch.
This high protein pea pesto can be used on toast, on a sandwich with complimentary vegetables, as a dip/hummus, and as a pasta sauce!
Pasta: Inspiration to Inception
I can’t take credit for the idea to turn this pesto into a pasta dish, that was all my Mom! As a very creative lady, she has been making it that way for over a year and was urging me to try it.
It wasn’t until Ian and I went out for our anniversary dinner (6 years!) that I felt inspired to make it that way. So many delicious pasta dishes on the menu at Scampo in the Liberty Hotel in Boston! To begin, they start you with a fava bean puree (that was beautifully bright green) for dipping the crisp bread-sticks. This bright green dip is what reminded me of the pea pesto crostini and ultimately gave me the idea to somehow incorporate beans (which, as a bonus, adds another excellent source of protein on top of the peas).
With all the snow and cold in Boston, getting to the grocery store is a very tedious task. It’s hard enough to “suit up” for the walk, let alone actually make it through the snow to your destination. Sadly, Whole Foods is just a short walk (5min) away and I couldn’t bring myself to go. I figured I would work with what I had, which meant that I would have to substitute Fava beans for another type I had on hand.
While comparing beans, I found that Fava and Cannellini/White beans both have a similiar “note of nuts” flavor. After a bit more researching I read that Cannelinni are “creamy” and Fava were “dense, grainy and rich in texture.” This seemed to definitely be in my favor! “Creamy” without dairy? Yes, please.
For the “nutty” and “cheesy” flavor that Parmesan provides I looked to Nutritional Yeast. This is a great source of that “cheese” flavor and is quite nutritious providing complex B vitamins (including B12). If your grocery store doesn’t sell it, here it is on Amazon.
The original recipe doesn’t call for pine nuts, but I threw in some hemp seeds to simulate a little more of that “nutty” flavor that Parmesan and pine nuts provide. It’s also a great source of Omega-3’s.
And with that, the pesto was born in the food processor.
Can’t stop there! I needed to incorporate those cherry tomatoes from the original recipe too! Mushrooms are always good to try to incorporate in your daily diet and I was happy to find that they pair nicely with peas! So I threw the mushrooms in a non-stick pan. NO OIL. They have enough moisture to stand their ground against the heat of the pan. Here are my flavorful and moist sauteed mushrooms as proof:
Aren’t they gorgeous? Then I blistered my cherry tomatoes in the same pan once I removed the mushrooms.
Ok, I have gone on long enough. Here are the the recipes:
Triple P (Pea Pesto + Protein):
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 (15oz) can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 1/2 cup thawed frozen or steamed peas
- 4 TBS nutritional yeast
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 2 TBS water
- 2 TBS hemp seeds
- 2 tsp lemon juice (I added this late in the game as I felt it was missing something. You may find that you’d like to add more (or even less I suppose!) )
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mince garlic in a food processor
- Add remaining ingredients and process.
- Additional olive oil, lemon juice, and water may be added incrementally to reach desired texture.
Triple P on Pasta:
- 1 package brown rice pasta (I used spaghetti)
- cherry tomatoes
- (I used a half pint, but this up to your tastes and presentation preference)
- mushrooms (optional)
- I used about 5 ounces, but this is also up to your tastes and presentation preference
- Additional peas for serving (optional)
- Additional beans for serving (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare brown rice pasta
- Brown rice pasta likes to stick to itself so don’t throw it all in at once and be sure to stir, stir, and stir again. Rinse with cool water to stop cooking process and prevent the pasta from becoming “gummy”
- Saute sliced mushrooms in pan (no oil) then remove once finished cooking
- Blister the tomatoes in the same pan the mushrooms were in
- Toss pasta with pesto until covered and dress with the mushrooms, tomatoes, and extra peas.
- Tip: If your pesto has been refrigerated prior to making pasta, you may need to add some liquid, warm it up a bit and give it a good stir.
- Tip: To add some texture on top of the pasta, try adding breadcrumbs instead of grated Parmesan cheese or additional hemp seeds.
Pea Pesto Sandwich:
Let your creativity sing! I used the pea pesto on sprouted grain with carrots, tomatoes, and hemp seeds, but you can use whatever fresh veggies you see fit to make a delicious and protein packed sandwich. Next time I plan on trying it with sauteed mushrooms as well!
Pea Pesto Toast:
YUM. Such a perfect snack! Spelt toast with cherry tomatoes. Even after the rehab, it would still make an excellent appetizer with bread or crackers!
Pea Pesto Hummus:
Not up for a pasta, sandwich or toast? Just dip those veggies, bread or crackers directly!
Thanks for being a friend,
Inspiration Credit: Scampo Boston, Giada De Laurentiis Pea Pesto Crostini, Vegetarian Flavor Bible, care2.com, Oh She Glows, and MOM <3.