Herb Pesto (and Mulberry Milkshake)
about a 4 minute read, lots of pics
Not that I have anything against basil, but pesto can be made with any edible green leaf or leaf combination. When all you see in your garden is edible leafy greens, pesto is a great way to serve up all that nutrition in a form that's easy and appealing to eat. In this post, I share my recent successful parsley pesto experiment.
Converting greens into something that everyone will eat
When we planted veggies in our modular veggie garden project we also planted some herbs, and one of them was parsley. It's thriving, as you can see in the image above, and now I have more than I know how to use.
Just as I was asking myself why in the world I planted so much parsley, into my inbox came a newsletter that included a very simple pesto recipe. (Once I'd read the recipe, I realized where it's from: Susun Weeds latest book on holistic health, Abundantly Well.)
I didn't have any of the herbs listed in the recipe, but I did have parsley. As Permaculturalist Morag Gamble points out, there really is no limit to what can be put into a pesto and it's a great way to convert large volumes of very nutritious greens into something that's easy and appealing for family members who aren't all that much into greens in other forms.
Harvesting the parsley
So, first things first, here's how not to harvest parsley - by snipping it off and leaving the stalk behind. The stalk you've left attached to the plant is going to die and rot, bringing moisture and decomposition into direct contact with the stem of the parsley plant.
Your parsley stems should look a bit more like this, taken right from the base... (Sorry for the blurry pics - I was being lazy and using the phone camera.)
... which leaves the central parsley stem clean.
Making the pesto
Next things next, chopped parsley in a bowl... I added olive oil to a bit below the level of the parsley. Nope, I didn't measure anything. I just started with how much parsley I had, and then added stuff to it.
It took a surprising amount of whizzing with the stick blender to get to this stage...
I followed the recipe instructions by adding salt and garlic, but then after that I kind of threw the recipe out the window and kept adding other stuff. A half finished packet of pepinos (I didn't have any pine nuts; another recipe I found online said any kind of nut or seed would do, which suits me)...
Cheese... (I know - you're supposed to use Parmesan cheese in pesto. But I had excess cheddar given to us by a friend that the kids aren't going to eat because it's too tangy and this seemed like a good way to use it up.)
When I had finished adding things that needed using up, it was time for some jars. It occurred to me that a reason for putting pesto into tall, narrow jars would be to allow less airspace for it to go brown, and so you'll need less olive oil on top to keep the oxygen out of the pesto.
Extra olive oil drizzled in on top.
From "What shall I do so as not to waste all this parsley?" to "What can I eat for lunch that I can heap this onto?!"
Storing the pesto
As Susun Weed says in the recipe above, pesto can keep for a very long time if there are only greens, garlic, oil, and salt. You could make a bulk amount of it to use up lots of herb/leafy greens, freeze it in portions, and add cheese, pine nuts, whatever, as you use each batch.
Having added the cheese and pepinos, I wasn't sure how long this pesto would keep in the fridge and whether we would use it fast enough, so I froze one of the three jars.
Turns out I needn't have worried: a little more than 24 hours later, the first jar is almost empty.
At our place at this time of year...
... the kids are keen mulberry collectors. Their fingers and faces are purple, the soles of their little bare feet are purple...
... and they've perfected the art of the mulberry milkshake. There was milkshake-making going on while I was pesto-making, so I took pics of the milkshake too.
The whole mulberry on the table is to put in the milkshake after its all whizzed up: the person who gets it in their glass gets to make a wish.
Mmmnnnn.... YUM. They're even getting pretty good at cleaning up after themselves.
I’ve always enjoyed store-bought pesto, but I seldom buy it as I don’t trust storing the unused part of the jar (re-lidded of course) in the fridge. I have parsley and other herbs growing, and you have inspired me to make my own, and store it confidently. Thanks.
You’re welcome, Beth! I recently made another batch, this time with lots and lots of the little broccoli side shoots that come after you harvest the main head. I wasn’t sure how else to preserve them, and they turned out yum just mashed up with lots of olive oil and a bit of salt, and garlic. Happy pesto-ing 🙂
Aaaaaaah, leafy greens in combination with oil, nuts, salt and garlic and cheese if available, become true treasures and can go on bread or crackers, tubers, veggie sticks, pasta of whatever kind, become part of salad dressing and sometimes can be even eaten plain – especially on a hot day when craving for something savoury to combat mineral losses from sweating. Thank you for reminding us of the easiness of making a healthy pesto!
Hi Antje, I felt a bit like that too: “Duh, why didn’t I think of that before?!” Thanks for your comment 🙂
that looks yummy! 🙂
it IS yummy 🙂