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Fresh, quick and oh-so pretty, give this minty-pesto pasta a try tonight. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

If you find yourself staring at your herb garden, anxious to see what survived the winter and is beginning to rise from the earth, you’re not alone. There’s always a sigh of relief seeing the first chives come up, the Greek oregano you forgive for being invasive and garden mint peaking out from the mulch. Chives are usually the first to show up, with a ‘take that, winter!’ attitude; striking purple flowers will be the best part of their show in a few weeks. Mint, on the other hand, tends to spread before you notice. Two weeks of not pruning it back will produce leggy stalks that will flower and attract not the nicest of pollinators, wasps being one. It’s best to discipline it early on by using it well! 

This recipe calls for adding mint into a tried and true hummus alternative by Tina Annibell, a former Sayville-based holistic health coach and Cornell Cooperative Extension certified master gardener. Annibel has since traded in her Long Island health-coaching roots for the hatch peppers of New Mexico, but her ethos remains the same: “Preparing meals with ingredients harvested from your backyard is a powerful strategy for improving one’s diet toward a healthy way of living.”

We agree, and when Annibel reminds us of the “good fats in the avocado and peas,” it’s even more enticing to try this surprisingly creamy and bright green pesto combination.

A few tips: Add small amounts of the pesto when blending with the pasta, as a little goes a long way. Don’t drown the pasta is always a good rule of thumb. The pasta water will help spread the pesto and promote its clinging factor.

Say no to gluten? Annibel recommends Bionaturae organic pasta made from rice and lentils (available at Wild by Nature in Hampton Bays)

Don’t forget the cheese! Annibel recommends finishing the dish with some salty Locatelli: how can you go wrong?

Southforker tip: Add some lemon-zested breadcrumbs (yes, there are gluten-free options!) to add a crispy-crunchy finish. Simply toast in a non-stick pan with olive oil and cheese on low heat, careful not to burn.

Did we mention this is pretty? Especially when garnished with more sprigs of mint. Don’t fret if you wiped out your first growth of the versatile herb; it will grow back before you know it.

Garden mint, pea and avocado pesto pasta

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Serves 4 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sweet peas (if using frozen, defrost for 15 minutes)
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt and a good pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb orecchiette, or pasta of choice
  • finely grated Locatelli cheese, to serve
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, toasted (optional)


  • Place the mint, avocado, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper and 1 cup of the peas in a small food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
  • Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 6 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving 1⁄2 cup of the cooking water.
  • Place the pasta, pesto and remaining peas in a large bowl. Add pasta water, a tablespoon at a time as needed to get the desired texture, and toss to combine. Divide between bowls and top with grated locatelli and toasted breadcrumbs if desired. Drizzle with good olive oil and serve.