Pesto can be made from so much more than just basil. It can be made with virtually any herb, or with greens. Spinach, chard, nettles, kale – you name it, most greens can create a flavorful pesto.
The Rowdy Chowgirl
Last week, thanks to the folks at Oxbow Farm, I cooked beets for the first time ever, and was quite happy with my Golden Summer Soup. When I was cleaning and trimming the beets, I held onto the beet greens. There was no way I was throwing away a bunch of fresh, nutritious greens. I washed them well, and saved them in the refrigerator for later use. I had initially planned to do a simple braise with them, just like I would with chard or other greens.
That would have been good. But you know what is even better? Pesto. Pesto is so much more than just basil. It can be made with virtually any herb (I’m partial to mint or cilantro), or with greens. Spinach, chard, nettles, kale – you name it, most greens can be used for pesto.
Sometimes I buy pine nuts from the bulk container at the co-op, but they can get expensive. I also like to use raw sunflower seeds or walnuts in my pesto.
A quick blanch in boiling water is helpful to soften the greens and to preserve their bright color.
You can also freeze extra pesto in an ice cube tray. This is a nice way to save some of the abundance of summer for later. You will want a special designated ice cube tray for this, as the pesto will definitely discolor the tray and leave behind a whiff of garlic. Put about 1 tablespoon of pesto in each space in tray and freeze. Once frozen, remove pesto cubes from tray, place in an airtight container, and keep in freezer. Remove and thaw cubes as needed for cooking.