Peanut Pesto and Peas Pasta Salad


In the Tampa, Florida, Summer began sometime like in March. No kidding. The season RIGHT NOW is called too “*!%!$@*$ HOT.” The moment you step outside into 99.9% humidity coupled with 98F temps, you wonder why you even bothered to dry yourself after a shower.

But never mind, because while Summer Fest is almost unbearable in my backyard, it’s in full-swing over at friends White On Rice and Matt Bites. Also, the rain didn’t flood out Margaret Roach’s Away to Garden in New York (though for a few weeks I almost was expecting Margaret to rename the blog Away Washed the Garden due to the non. stop. rainfall.

The four of us (actually five because Todd and Diane are separate people, not Toddiane, though they are so well fit that sometimes it’s just easier to say it like that in one lovely breath) teamed up to bring you Summer Fest 2009, a four-week celebration of fresh-from-the-garden food: recipes, growing tips, even tricks for storing and preserving summer’s best. Each week we’ll have a different theme, this week is herbs.

The Summer Fest is all about blog cross-pollination…meaning we want to hear from you! The secret to this recipe is for you to play along…I’ll give you details at the end.

To kick of Week 1 of Summer Fest: Herbs, I’ve made a Peanut Pesto and Peas Pasta Salad.

It’s pabulously peasy and pealicious.

and easy, too.


Fortunately for me, basil is thriving right now in my garden, one of the few things that actually are doing well in this extreme Florida summer heat. Instead of the boring pine-nut pesto, I make variations by substituting different nuts – like peanuts today.


Pesto comes together really easy in a food processor – here I’ve added basil, peanuts, garlic, salt and a bit of olive oil (to lubricate and get things moving)


Let the baby whirrrrrrrrr!! Dang it, pesky leaf didn’t want to get chopped up. You can also spice things up by adding some red pepper flakes. Drizzle in the remaining olive oil slowly.


Stir in the Parmesan (hey! another P word!!)


and here you go – a beautiful Peanut Pesto.


To Store: You can take this Peanut Pesto and freeze them in little freezer baggies – seal tight and lay flat in your freezer so that they freeze flat. I know some of you freeze them in ice cube trays too – but I find that it’s more convenient to use quart freezer bags, as it’s the perfect amount to toss with pasta.

To make the Peanut Pesto and Peas Pasta Salad – boil some pasta, chop up some tomato, add some frozen peas, corn. Then toss with some of the peanut pesto. Really, that’s it! You can sub with ANY other pasta shape, vegetables etc. I’m easy like that.


Voila! You’ll end up with a big bowl.


This is summery, fresh and colorful…it’s a great way to use up all your basil too!


Don’t forget, you can use any type of nut that you want….macadamia nut would be too fabulous for words.


Peanut Pesto and Peas Pasta Salad Recipe

1 pound dried pasta (any shape)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 cup (or more) of the Peanut Pesto Recipe (below)

Combine all ingredients together.

Peanut Pesto Recipe

You’ll have some pesto left over – freeze the remaining pesto

3 ounce block of parmesan or romano cheese (1/2 cup finely grated)
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thick stems discarded
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (1/2 tsp table salt)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons unsalted dry-roasted peanuts (if using salted, cut amount of salt measurement in half)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. If using pre-grated cheese, skip this step. Cut the parmesan or romano cheese into 1/2-inch chunks and put into a food processor. Process until the cheese is very fine. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

2. To the food processor bowl, add the basil leaves, salt, garlic, peanuts and only 1/4 of the olive oil. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container halfway. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, the cheese and the lemon juice.


How you can join Summer Fest

Summer Fest 2009 is a four-week, cross-blog celebration co-created (alphabetically listed) by A Way to Garden, Matt Armendariz of Mattbites, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, and Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple, with guest appearances from Shauna and Daniel Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl, Simmer Till Done’s Marilyn Pollack Naron, and Paige Smith Orloff of The Sister Project. And from you, that’s critical. Your contributions are desired, and needed.

Will you play along? Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting today, with the subject of herbs, you can contribute in various ways, big or small. Contribute a whole post, or a comment – whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:

Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

Or think bigger: Publish entire entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2009 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites).

Summer Fest 2009 Schedule:

  • Tuesday, July 28: HERBS. Any and all.
  • Tuesday, August 4: FRUITS FROM TREES (also known as stone fruits, but we won’t scream if you toss in a berry or another fruit, promise).
  • Tuesday, August 11: BEANS-AND-GREENS WEEK (either or both, your choice).
  • Tuesday, August 18: TOMATO WEEK. How do you like them love apples?

What did my co-conspirators make this week of Herbs?

Away to Garden: Roll your herbs! (no, not THOSE kind of herbs!) parsley-roll-done Growing and Storing a Year of Parsley

White On Rice: vegetable-spring-rice-paper-rolls-425x641 Vietnamese Vegetable Summer Rolls!! You must see their lovely garden.

Matt Bites:rosemary-salty-dog-cocktail Rosemary Salty Dog Cocktail GORGEOUS!

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Comments 33

  1. Margaret Roach

    I am so appreciative of the suggestion for renaming this place, most of which seems to have indeed washed downhill this season. “Away Washed the Garden” it is. I need to get a new logo made…

    This recipe is brilliant; love peanuts. Usually I do the predictable walnut or pine nut blend with basil, so this will be what I do with part of my crop. Thanks for participating in the Summer Fest (and for widening my diet a bit here in the process).

  2. matt

    I’m back, I just couldn’t stay away. I keep thinking off all the uses of peanut pesto and how different it must taste in various applications. SO. MAKING. IT. SATURDAY.

  3. Lizzie Longenecker

    Omygosh…. it’s miserably hot here in Jacksonville, too. And, also like you, my basil is doing quite well! But instead of using it for pesto, I feed it to my bunny, who loves it 😛

  4. Deborah

    What a great idea! I will have to go check out all the other contributors.

    One of my recent favorite recipes I do for entertaining I found in Amy Sherman’s cookbook about appetizers.

    Here is my version of Goat Cheese Mini Bites at


  5. White On Rice Couple

    Whoa, what gorgeous, healthy basil! We can smell that all the way over here in Los Angeles!
    Jaden,this is just genius to use different types of nuts and peanuts are perfect for this! The familiar nutty flavors of peanuts with fresh garden basil, wow!
    So sorry to hear about your heat, but your gorgeous garden always puts out the most outstanding sprigs of herbs. How do you do it, wonder garden woman? Give us big bowl of now now, please!!

    Here’s our contribution, Herb & vegetable rice paper rolls:

  6. Andrea

    Your basil is gorgeous! Ours suffered this year from too much rain and has been slow to grow, but it’s finally coming around.

    The beautiful thing about pesto is mixing it up with different types of basil and nuts. Lemon basil and pistachios make a nice light flavored pesto.

  7. Kristin

    Ooo… I never thought of using peanuts in pesto… although it seems so obvious. Good idea. I have a ton of dry roasted peanuts leftover from making Pim’s pad thai.

  8. Shauna from Piece of Cake

    Come to San Francisco! We have the opposite problem here, most of the time I forget it’s summer until I check the calendar. I made a black bean stew with ham the other day and ate it while wearing a sweatshirt and slippers. So. Wrong.

    But this dish still has purpose for foggy-heads like us…we can PRETEND it’s actually summery and sunny eating something like this! Fabulous.

  9. Julie

    I always kill my basil. I can’t manage to keep it alive! So I’d best make a big batch of pesto quick, before it dies! Love the peanut idea – would never have thought of that!

  10. Simone (junglefrog)

    We’re growing some of our own herbs for the first time this year (dille, coriander, basil, thyme and oregano) but the basil is not only liked by us… It’s being eaten vigorously by little unseen monsters. They must be tiny caterpillars… I can’t find them during daylight anyway!

    I would like to share my fabulous dill, feta and smoked chicken quiches! But I might be making something new as well if I have time!

  11. Julie

    On the subject of herbs, my favourite rosemary recipe, if I was put up against a wall and forced to pick one, is homemade rosemary-raisin pecan crisps (Raincoast Crisps, to which I am addicted):

    I have the best luck with flat-leaf Italian parsley, and always have tons in my garden for fresh parsley hummus:, brown and wild rice salad with dried fruit and pecans:, and today I loaded up a lemony new potato salad with peas:

  12. Gavan, 'The Healthy Irishman'

    Hey Jaden,I love this Summer Fest idea. My wife and I grow pretty much all our own herbs and friends in our tiny backyard from Cilantro to Mint to Thai basil and a few in between, including peppers and strawberries. It’s really easy to do and just being able to go out and pick fresh herbs is great.
    Here’s one of my recipes where I did just that.
    I’ll definitely be making this salad this weekend.

    Looking forward to the next few weeks.
    BTW your recipes always look great.

  13. Kristina

    Love this idea! My basil is taking over my yard too. Here’s my idea – this soup is great hot, lukewarm or cold and it’s got a zingy cilantro-lime puree you swirl in it:

  14. Sharon

    Great tips everyone! Heres another use for cilantro: Wash, save, and freeze the biggest roots as the plants peter out. Its used in Thai cooking, such as Larb. Yum.

  15. SippitySup

    This is great. I usually refrain from commenting her (too much competition!) but this sounds fun. Plus, I somehow thought you were in So. Florida. But I guess I was wrong. Well, I grew up in the T Bay area and will be there Aug 20-25 and would love to meet you, wine you, semi-dine you… because you areThe Food Blog Godess. Greg AT Sippity Sup Dot Com GREG

    awww. you are too sweet. Actually, high-priestess of blogging. < --- just kidding. ~jaden

  16. katiek @kitchensidecar

    why does this sound marginally asian to me? peanuts…

    This looks good – at leas it doesn’t have mayonnaise in it like the one the barefoot contessa makes -errrrr

    To make it “Asian” I’d use a combo of cilantro and mint with the peanuts. I’ve got a recipe for that in the cookbook! ~jaden

  17. Diana

    What a great idea! I have been cooking so much with fresh herbs this summer. One of my favorites is panko and feta zucchini pancakes (my husband prefers pancakes, I usually call them fritters). They use fresh dill, parsley, and scallions and are so amazing, we can’t get enough of them.

    I’m excited to read the other entries. By the way, you wouldn’t want to be in Seattle today, it’s 101 degrees! We’re melting!

  18. Christian

    Love the peanut Pesto. Recipe seems to have a bit of a Thai flair? I think I’ll give this recipe a test run on a few pesto lovers who I know and see what the verdict is. Sounds like it will be a hit.

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