One of the joys of summer is harvesting and eating straight from your garden, whether it’s a big one or made of up of many pots on the back porch. With its fresh flavor and bright green color, pesto is one of my favorite ways to enjoy several garden products.
Typically pesto is a blend of basil, garlic, pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste. It’s a no-cook meal that comes together quickly with a blender or food processor. If nuts are a problem for you, you can use sunflower seeds instead, and if nuts are ok, any nut fits the bill in this recipe. And a vegan substitute for the cheese is nutritional yeast, or just leave out the cheese and add more nuts or seeds for texture.
Toss the ingredients in a blender or food processor to pull it all together. Pulse the nuts (I like to toast mine first in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes, tossing to lightly toast the nuts) and garlic in the food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the basil and pulse again. Add freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. Finally, stream in the olive oil until you’ve got the consistency you’re looking for, and you’re good to go. Toss the pesto with pasta or with some mozzarella and fresh-from-garden tomatoes and you’ve got a simple summer meal. Or use it to top grilled fish or a grass-fed burger or just a good piece of crusty bread and you’ve got a zingy condiment.
But did you know you can make pesto from other greens? If you’re feeling adventurous, try arugula, garlic scape pesto or a peppery nasturtium pesto! You can even use kale or collard greens, though you’ll want to blanch them quickly first and dry them completely before processing. Once you get the basic recipe down, the pesto possibilities are endless!
2 cups of nasturtium leaves (you can also use the stems)
¼ cup pine nuts
2-4 cloves of garlic
½ cup olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Place leaves, pine nuts, garlic, and oil in the blender or food processor; blend until smooth.
Add cheese and pulse lightly.
Don’t forget to garnish with a nasturtium flower.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10 to 12 scapes)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts or raw sunflower seeds
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup basil leaves
Juice of one lemon
Start with the scapes and process for about 30 seconds.
Add the nuts or seeds until they are broken down and mixed well with the scapes.
Next, pour in the olive oil.
Add the Parmesan cheese, and lastly add the basil and lemon juice. Enjoy!