Making Pesto

Making pesto is something that never caught my attention until this summer. It started when I noticed that a lot of lambs-quarters had planted itself in my garden and I started thinking about things one can do with an abundance of greens. Once I found a basic formula for pesto, I experimented with whatever greens came my way, including lambs-quarters, radish greens, lemon balm, chard, beet greens, and carrot greens. Some I have liked better than others. My two favorites so far are radish greens and chard combined with basil. Some other greens you could try are spinach, mint, arugula, and kale, as well as dandelion greens and other wild greens.

You can use the recipe below with whatever greens or combination of greens you have available. Nuts and seeds that are commonly used in pesto include walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds. I saw one recipe that used pistachios, which sounds yummy. Some recipes recommend toasting the nuts, which I am sure is delicious, but so far I have been too lazy to try that myself. Most recipes recommend using 1/2 or even 3/4 cups of oil. I use much less as I prefer things to be not too oily. Also, I usually use pesto as a sandwich spread. You would probably want to use more oil if you plan to use your pesto as a sauce.

Since I have been making so much pesto, I have put some in the freezer to enjoy in the winter. I froze it in an ice cube tray, then put the frozen cubes in a plastic container for longer storage. This way I can take out whatever amount I need at a time.

Pesto

  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup nuts or seeds
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups greens
  • 1/8 – 3/4 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste

Pulverize the cheese in a food processor. Add the nuts, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pulse a few times. Add the greens, a cup at a time, and mince well. While the food processor is running, add the oil, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the pesto is the consistency you like. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Makes about 1 cup.

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