Green Garden Pesto
Updated: Oct 12
Spring in the garden means a marathon of leaves but nothing is wasted with green pesto!
No need to wait until the basil is out and ready in the middle of summer to make a pesto from the garden harvest. Many fresh baby green leaves make great pesto. When early, easy growing ones like kale, silverbeet and roquette are popping out faster than light speed, I just use my cooking scissors and pick a big bunch of leaves while they are still soft. The more kale and chard grows, I thin them up by weeding bunches and I keep the best leaves for cooking and the rest for treats for the chickens. Then I let few kale and chard plants grow bigger and regularly pick leaves as I need. If happy and protected from pests, they’ll be productive for a long time before showing flowers. As for roquette, I just pick as much as I can before it goes up, which I’m happy to let go as flowers attract bees and they will self-seed for the next round! I do the same with herbs like coriander, which always go to seed once the weather warms up. Those ingredients also make a great pesto to use as a paste to flavor many dishes. Mint and parsley do great together as pesto I find and that is good as they are more than easy to grow and do great in large pots you don’t have the space for these invading herbs.
Garden green pesto "free-style" © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-20
Most pesto recipe ingredients include a combination of herbs or leaves, lemon, garlic, nuts, oil, spices and parmesan cheese all mixed together in the food processor. The classic basil pesto is made with roasted pine nuts, which I deeply love, but any other nuts like walnut, macadamia, pecan, peanut, pistachio, cashew, almond or kernels like pumpkin pepitas and sunflower seeds work perfectly. I’ve recently discovered the versatility of the hazelnut. Not only they are yummy in everything, including a pesto, hazelnuts are cultivated and sold locally (Happy Wombat Hazelnuts). At this time of year, locally grown lemon can still be waving at you so that’s a great recipe for using them before they become overripe. Homemade pesto can be used in potato salad, grilled-cheeses sandwiches, pizzas, bruschettas, pastas, quinoas et cetera. In spring and summer I freeze the excess in small containers or ice cubes for later use. I prefer making most of my favourite combinations without garlic and then I’ll just add it depending on what recipe I will use the pesto for. I don’t really have one precise recipe, I just make it with what I’ve got each time and love all variations and combinations!
Stay tuned for all recipes in my upcoming book!