a virtuous necessity: lemony pea and mint pesto

lemony pea and mint pesto crostini

Stumbling bleary-eyed into the kitchen in need of my early morning fix of strong tea and Radio 4’s Today programme, I was just settling in to gently waken up when, as the fog cleared, I spotted something out of place on top of the fridge-freezer. “Oh b***er,” I thought.

My poor little freezer is the opposite of the TARDIS. It is a lot smaller on the inside than it looks on the outside. I am forced to have a “one in, one out” policy as I try to cram things back in. But I’d forgotten to find space for a half-used bag of frozen peas, which had now been sitting a little forlornly on top of the freezer having defrosted overnight.

lemony pea and mint pesto crostino

In the scheme of things, it’s not the end of the world, but I really do hate wasting food, not just because I am on a very tight budget but because of the environmental impact of food waste. (If you don’t believe me, check out my weekly blog as The Dinner Doctor on The Guardian’s Live Better Challenge website!)

Could these mushy defrosted peas be saved? Hell, of course they could, if I could, as Chaucer said so eloquently “Then is it wisdom, as it seems to me, To make a virtue of necessity . . .”

So smear a little of this pea pesto on toasted bread with a shaving of Parmesan and a little chilli flakes (or my favourite, fruity Aleppo pepper), or serve with grilled sausages. Suddenly necessity seems wonderfully virtuous!

Makes about 24 crostini (from a long French stick)
Skill level: Easy

250g frozen peas (or fresh, blanched)
1 x small garlic clove, finely chopped
a small handful of mint leaves (about 15 to 20)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste
Aleppo pepper (or dried chilli flakes)
rounds of toasted French bread


  1. Tip the peas into a blender with the garlic, a few mint leaves and lemon juice. Blend until a rough paste forms.
  2. Add the olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Blend again. You may prefer a rough texture or a smoother one: it really is up to you!
  3. Season with a load of freshly ground black pepper. Add salt to taste.
  4. Serve smeared over slices of toasted French bread rounds, with shards of Parmesan and few Aleppo pepper (or dried chilli) flakes.

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