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Many of us grew up in a home where green peas made a frequent appearance as a dinner time side dish. There’s a good chance you have a bag of peas in your freezer or canned peas in your pantry right now. What you may not have realized is that this routine vegetable is super nutritious! Green peas are packed with protein and fiber and are low in fat. Peas are rich in B-vitamins and vitamins A, C, and K and are a good source of many minerals including calcium, iron and magnesium.Whether you are eating them fresh, canned or frozen, we are here to tell you, keep eating those peas!

Flavorful pea pesto is a new twist on an Italian classic. Hot pasta is tossed with vibrantly colored pesto and dotted with creamy pillows of ricotta cheese creating a quick to make family-friendly meal.

The addition of peas lends a creaminess that eliminates the need for excess olive oil and fresh basil and mint add tons of flavor. While a food processor makes this untraditional pesto a breeze to whip up, feel free to keep it old school with a mortar and pestle.

Fun Fact:
1 cup of green peas contains more protein than an egg and more fiber than 2 large apples!

Kids’ corner:
Get your kids involved! You may be surprised by their eagerness to help. Participating in food preparation increases kids’ willingness to try new foods and is a great opportunity for quality time. It is also an excellent way to practice reading and math skills.

Kids’ can…

  • Read the recipe aloud
  • Measure the peas
  • Peel the garlic
  • Pick the basil and mint leaves from the stem
  • Juice the lemon
  • Mix the ricotta
  • Spoon the ricotta onto the pasta

Tip for the cook:
Choose pasta that is whole wheat, high fiber or high protein to keep it even healthier!

Time saver:
Canned peas are a quick and easy substitute for frozen. Be sure to look for cans that say no salt added and drain well.

Ingredients

1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1 large lemon
2 cups green peas, frozen
12oz rotini or fusilli pasta, dry
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Optional: extra basil leaves for garnish

Directions

  1. Zest ½ of the lemon and measure 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Reserve the rest of the lemon for the pesto. In a small bowl combine the ricotta, lemon zest and teaspoon of lemon juice. Set aside until pasta is ready to serve or cover and refrigerate if not immediately proceeding.

  1. Cook peas according to package directions. Immediately rinse cooked peas with cold water to stop the cooking process and keep the peas bright green. Drain well, reserve ½ cup of peas and add the rest to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining, reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Drain pasta and return to the pot.
  3. While pasta is cooking, make the pesto. Add basil, mint, garlic and olive oil to the peas in the bowl of the food processor. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of lemon juice from the reserved lemon and add to the other ingredients. Process ingredients until completely smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed.

  1. Add pesto to the drained hot pasta. Gently stir to combine. If needed, add cooking water to the pasta 1 tablespoon at a time to slightly thin the sauce.

  1. Stir reserved peas into pasta and season to taste with extra lemon juice, pepper and salt. Pour pasta into a serving bowl, dollop ricotta over the pasta and garnish with extra basil leaves. Serve hot.

Serves: 6

Nutrition

Calories 297 Total Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 1 g Monounsaturated Fat 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 3 mg Sodium 93 mg
Potassium 123 mg Total Carbohydrate 52 g
Dietary Fiber 9 g Sugars 6 g
Protein 13 g
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