Green Garden Pesto
Updated: Feb 1
Spring in the garden means a marathon of leaves but nothing is wasted with green pesto!
No need to wait until the basil is ready in the middle of summer to make a pesto from the garden harvest. Many kinds of fresh leaves of leafy greens make great pesto. When early, easy growing ones like kale, silverbeet, spinach 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 they grow, I thin them up by pulling out bunches and I just keep the best leaves for cooking and the rest for the chickens. Then I let the nicest ones to 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. Herbs also make a great pesto to use as a paste to flavor many dishes. Mint and parsley do great together as pesto and that is good as they are more than easy to grow.
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 delicious 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 salads, 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 "free-style", but I'll make you some suggestions!
Fresh and washed baby greens leaves of choice* (enough to fill the processor container)
½-1 cup roasted nuts or kernels of choice*
½-1 lemon, juiced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Prepare and mix all ingredients in a food processor.
Adjust ingredients to taste.
Serve or save in freezer in small containers or ice cubes.
* COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS:
With baby Red Russian kale and roasted walnuts
With fresh roquette and roasted pumpkin pepitas
With young chard leaves and roasted hazelnuts
Herbs & flower:
With mint, parsley, garlic flower and roasted sunflower seeds
With coriander, turmeric, ginger and roasted pistachios
With basil, garlic and roasted pine nuts
With thaï basil, garlic, chilli, ginger and cashew