In this simple green pea pasta recipe, you toss linguine in a pea and mint pesto, along with leeks, pistachios, lemon zest, chives, and even more peas.
A friend stopped by the other day while I was mowing the lawn for the first time this year. She immediately commented on the greenness of our yard. Of course, I knew this. The lawnmower had already stalled out at least half a dozen times by then, thanks to patches of grass that somehow managed to grow a foot high already. And wet grass clung to my shoes, legs, and even my shirt. I saw nothing but green.
spring is here
As I glanced around the backyard, I saw she was right. But it wasn’t just the grass. The chives had returned in full force behind the shed. Beside the driveway, the mint was flourishing in a shade of emerald. At least a dozen garlic bulbs had sprouted, looking vibrant and healthy. Even the blueberries I planted along the road last summer, that I never expected to survive the winter, had returned to the land of the living.
Since mid-February, I’ve focused on starting seeds and caring for tiny seedlings inside the house. In doing so, I forgot about all those perennials that seem to come back almost overnight without any attention. In addition to chives and mint; there’s oregano, sage, two kinds of thyme, lemon balm, and a few blueberries and raspberry plants. Not to mention some flowers, but don’t ask me what kind.
growing perennial herbs and vegetables
The easiest and cheapest way to obtain more perennial herbs and vegetables is to find someone who already has them.
My mint came from my girlfriend’s mother’s yard in Chittenden. I stuck it in a notoriously weedy spot along the driveway because I’d rather pick mint than weeds. I know everyone always says to plant mint in a container, but I’ve never had luck with that approach. My advice is to find a spot where you won't care if it spreads. Hey, even if it spreads into the grass, who cares?
Likely, you’ve got options for finding yourself some perennials. Those chives came from my parents’ house, which I had planted from a bunch I took from my grandparents’ garden a few years before that. And I’m pretty sure my grandmother got hers from her sister.
One day I'd like to grow two of the best culinary spring perennials - rhubarb and asparagus. Do I know anyone willing to share some plants? Ramps, also known as wild leeks, can supposedly be grown intentionally at home, too.
The great thing about perennial herbs and vegetables is that they’re some of the first harvests from the garden. For the past two years, I’ve made a hoop house over one of our raised beds, which helps overwinter some plants that might otherwise not withstand the conditions, such as the sage and thyme. I transfer them to better spots early in spring, and they are ready just as early.
Smart gardeners can also overwinter unexpected items such as leeks and carrots, if well mulched for insulation. It’s not a guarantee, but if done right, you could pull vegetables out of the ground right about now. Something to keep in mind for later this year, perhaps
green pea pasta with fresh herbs
With all the green outside right now, why waste any time before bringing them in the kitchen to enjoy? Pasta is such an easy way to toss several of these foods together in a dish that reminds us why spring is worth the wait of such a long, grey Vermont winter.
Although we often use basil to make pesto, plenty of other herbs are just as good. In this recipe, I combine fresh mint with peas and pistachios for a super green spring pesto and it's so good. Frozen peas work well in this green pea pasta dish, but I can't wait to make this again soon with my own fresh garden peas.
I also love leeks, and that's why I saute a bunch in this recipe and are toss them with the pasta and pesto. But if you're lucky enough to know a good spot for foraging ramps, this is an excellent recipe where their mild onion and garlic flavor can shine.
For another one of my favorite easy pasta dishes, check out my penne alla rum recipe.Print