Once the greens and herbs starting coming in full force, I start making pesto. It is late this year. But no worries. I’m sure the garden will start busting out some more of something. (Right?)
It is almost never traditional pesto (with basil, garlic, olive oil and cheese) because I can’t seem to ever grow enough basil to make that happen. It is usually more “toss-in-anything-growing-add-some-garlic-and-oil-and-cheese.” And some kind of nuts or seeds if I remember. I like (blanched) kale pesto. Last year I made a Sorrel-Mint Pesto that pretty much rocked. Use your imagination and just go for it.
The Babylady and I were wandering around the garden and I noticed that rather overnight the sorrel and spinach were about to bolt. So we picked a bunch to make pesto along with some of last summer’s garlic. Pesto is an easy thing to make with kids and they (generally) really like eating things they pick and help prepare.
Pick however much you want. There is no need for a pesto recipe. Just tweak it to your liking. Pick and wash well. The Babylady is more interested in eating straight from the garden than helping me pick anything to bring inside, but she loves the salad spinner. So spin, spin away kiddo while I get the garlic peeled.
Again, however much you like. Big garlic fan? Garlic intensity and flavor really varies a lot (unless you are getting standard grocery store head) and I never remember what I plant so it is always a bit of a surprise.
I usually do the garlic in the food processor and then start adding the greens. This is a good spot to let your kid help again. You know, make sure they aren’t going to shove those little hands in the feeder tube or anything. Pack it in and then give a dramatic ER-style “All-Clear!” and grind. (Or am I dating myself? Should I say Grey’s-style?)
Anyhow, obvious food processor dangers aside, kids like to help, especially if it involves stuffing, pulverizing something and/or a potential mess. And it helps your sanity that pesto isn’t precise.
The Babylady also likes to add oil to things. If you spend any time with a 3.5 year old you’ll know willy-nilly attention to this matter probably means it won’t turn out how you want. There will either be to deluge of oil or ultra-conservative rationing. I get past this by pouring portions in a small cup and having her pour the whole thing in. It is just easier.
Add some parmesan cheese and whirl some more. A bit of kosher salt. Taste. Tinker.
About here I usually remember nuts exist so rummage to see what I have. If I have pine nuts it is a bonus, but I usually don’t . Sometimes I leave nuts out. I’ve used pistachios. This time I found sunflower seeds. Toss them in and grind some more.
I tend to go a bit light on the oil because I add more when using the pesto later. I freeze extra in quarter-pint jars, ice-cube trays or just blogs on a tray (the latter placed in a freezer bags when they are frozen).
I used it this time with pasta shells, chopped radish and some feta. Simple. Good. Terrible photo, but good stuff!
However, my current favorite way of eating pesto I don’t have a picture of…I guess it is so good I just dig in right away. It is pesto+ leftover long pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, whatever) + over-easy freshly laid yolk-y egg. Plenty of cracked pepper. Yum. Heaven. The egg runs through the pasta and if it is a freshly laid egg…it is stunningly yellow and delicious!