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Pea Pesto with Ricotta Dip

This dip is sure to impress. Serve it along side some croistini or other crisp cracker that can withstand the weight of ricotta cheese when dipping and scooping.

Essentially this dish is just ricotta cheese with a swirl of pesto on top, so it can be whipped up in a jiffy and can be altered to fit seasonal ingredients effortlessly. The pesto recipe, like all pesto recipes is pretty versatile. Pesto can be made from so many different ingredients; basil, peas, pea shoots, parsley, kale, tarragon, mint, arugula, dandelion, spinach, cilantro, broccoli raab, radish greens, sundried tomato, garlic scape, swiss chard, the list goes on and on!

In this recipe I used exclusively pea shoots, but don't feel like you have to stick to just one flavour, feel free to toss in a few basil and or mint leaves to give the pesto more depth. If you can get your hands on fresh or frozen peas, you can sub those in, too. Just be sure to thaw the frozen ones or blanch the raw ones (for one to two minutes) before processing.

Honestly, I don't follow a recipe when making pesto. I have a small 2 1/2 cup food processor attachment for my immersion blender, so I rarely make full batches either. I'm basically looking for a flavour/texture when making pesto and have been through enough recipes to know what I like and what I want. I usually start by filling the processor 80% full of leaves (two large handfuls of pea shoot, basil, kale, a mix, whatever) then I add a handful of Parmesan (though pecorino is good too), and a few good lugs of olive oil (maybe about 1/4-1/3 cup). Sometimes I add nuts (almond, pine, walnut), garlic, and or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. A quick whiz in the processor will let you know what else is needed. Too thick? Add more olive oil. Too thin? Add some more leaves. Not salty enough? add more cheese or some salt.

Remember when making pesto that you're not cooking it (usually) so it's in your best interest to use high quality ingredients - the best exrta virgin olive oil you can afford and the best Parmesan cheese really do make a big difference.

Pea Pesto with Ricotta

1 cup frozen peas, thawed (sub pea shoots)

½ cup basil leaves (sub pea shoots)

½ cup mint leaves (sub pea shoots) *you're looking for 2 cups of "greens" total, substitute away!

¼ cup grated Parmesan

1 garlic clove, finely grated (optional)

¼ cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

425 g fresh ricotta

Flaky sea salt, for garnish

more olive oil, for garnish

Toasted bread, for serving

1. In a food processor, combine the peas, basil and mint leaves, Parmesan and garlic. Purée until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until you have a chunky paste, then season with salt and pepper.

2. Spread the ricotta on a plate and dollop the pesto on top. Next, swirl the pesto into the ricotta and garnish with basil, mint, olive oil, pepper and flaky sea salt, then serve with toasted bread.

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