Pea Tendril & Pistachio Pesto

pea tendril pistachio pesto / pea tendril pistachio pesto /

I’m pesto obsessed. I love pesto because anything can become pesto. I brought home these sweet pea tendrils from the farmers market the other day… I didn’t know quite what to do with them so I pesto-ed them. I usually reach for walnuts but I loved the spring color of the pistachios… plus, I just couldn’t resist the alliteration.

Pea tendrils have a mild flavor that’s slightly sweet, which makes for nice mellow pesto. If you can’t find them, you can still make a nice pistachio pesto out of spinach, arugula, basil, or mint… whatever combination of soft greens and herbs you like. This lasts in the fridge for about 3 days – I put it on toast, mixed it into pasta, and added it to a few lunchtime kale salads. Pesto possibilities are endless!

pea tendril & pistachio pesto

Serves: about 1.5 cups
  • heaping ½ cup pistachios, chopped & toasted
  • a few big handfuls of pea tendrils (or any mild soft leafy green)
  • zest & juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil (a few tablespoons to ¼ cup)
  • optional: handful of fresh basil or mint
  • optional: grated parmesan cheese
  1. In a food processor, pulse together everything except for the olive oil. Drizzle the oil in slowly while the blade is running. Add as much or little olive oil as you want. Less oil will make a chunkier pesto, more olive oil will make it more smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings.
to save time, look for raw shelled pistachios (in the bulk section of some stores).


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. When our peas start coming up at the farm I am definitely making this. Sounds fantastic. So creative!

  2. Kristin from

    Oh this looks tasty and easy to make. I am so excited!

  3. Kathryn from

    What a lovely spring-like pesto!

  4. I am pesto obsessed too, though I’ve never used pistachios in a pesto of mine I definitely will try it out!

  5. Eileen from

    Oh, I love the idea of using pea shoots in a pesto! There are huge piles of them at our farmer’s market right now, so I know what I’ll be doing next weekend. πŸ™‚

  6. Skye from

    What lovely flavours – a gorgeous twist on a classic.

  7. sandra from

    what a sweet title for a sweet spring fresh recipe.

  8. Isadora from

    I’m pesto obsessed and pistachio obsessed so this sounds like the perfect combination! Maybe I’ll make some pea tendril & pistachio pesto pasta πŸ™‚

    • jeanine

      That actually was the original title of this post, the pasta photos just didn’t quite work out πŸ™‚

  9. Emma from

    I love pea shoots. So mild and almost sweet!
    And pesto of course!

  10. I have made a pea and pistachio pesto before but I never knew the tendrils were edible too!!! I gotta get on this recipe!

    • jeanine

      edible and pretty tasty!

  11. Laura from

    “I love pesto because anything can become pesto.” <— LOVING that. I've always felt the same way, but never totally realized it until I just read this. Pea shoots and pistachios! That sounds just about perfect right now.

    • jeanine

      thanks Laura πŸ™‚

  12. Brittany from

    Such a beautiful color – it’s got me so excited for spring! πŸ™‚

  13. Love this! What a brilliant pesto idea. I can imagine how bright the flavor must be. Perfect for spring – which I am desperately awaiting!

  14. This looks like such a great spring time recipe! I’ve made pesto before with fresh peas – do the tendrils have a similar flavor? I’ve never tried them before, but they look great! And I’ve seen them at a local market, so I’ll have to pick some up!

    • jeanine

      they don’t have as strong of a pea flavor – they’re pretty neutral greens, just slightly sweet.

  15. Kate from

    Pesto everything, I say! I’ve never tasted pea tendrils but this pesto sounds fantastic. Arugula pesto is one of my favorites and I have a bunch of kale destined to be pulverized for dinner soon.

  16. jac from

    what a cool idea! my husband and i usually pesto kale and walnuts cause it’s usually what we have lying around πŸ™‚
    xo jac

  17. My kids are loving pea tendrils from our farmers market. This pesto is such a great idea!

  18. Lauren from

    Thank you for this gorgeous inspiration.
    Completely inspired me tonight while making another dish (Israeli couscous with asparagus and sugar snap peas recipe on epicurious). I had pea shoots and macadamia nuts so substituted those for the tendrils and pistachios. Delicious. We all finished our plates (even my toddlers), for once sad there are no leftovers. This recipe is definitely going into my go to file.

    • jeanine

      omg, that sounds delicious – I’ll have to try using macadamia nuts sometime…

  19. What a great recipe, once again! I still have some pea tendrils sitting in my fridge (I made a spring risotto with peas, asparagus, & pea tendrils yesterday) and this pesto would definitely be a great way to use them. Honestly, I’m so excited by this recipe! Can’t wait to try it.

    • jeanine

      Thanks Sini! I did a pea tendril risotto also (with this batch) – so delicious!

  20. I am also pesto obsessed. Especially because anything can become dinner with pesto. Yet to try pistachio pesto, bet its good.

    • Alicia

      I made this tonight after wondering what to do with all of the pea tendrils I had. This was amazing! I added it to chickpea pasta along with cherry tomatoes and basil. So good! Can’t wait to use it as a dip for crackers or veggies too! Thank you,

      • Alicia

        I forgot to rate the recipe-5 stars for sure!

    • jeanine

      me too, definitely…

  21. sara from

    Yum!! i love new ideas for pesto. i just made my cilantro lime jalapeΓ±o pesto, so good!

  22. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board
    and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I hope
    to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  23. mainesol

    I was at the farmers market Saturday and came across a beautiful bundle of pea tendrils. I brought it home not knowing what I was going to do with them. I found this recipe and happened to have all the ingredients so I chose it. What a delightful pesto! I am going back next Saturday and will be very disappointed if they don’t have the tendrils again. I want to make a batch to freeze for winter bliss.

  24. Ginger

    I think this a very nice recipe. No alterations were made. I used a food processor after my blender was clearly not up to the job. Delicious.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Ginger, I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.