By Mandy Simon
One of the highlights of summer is growing fresh herbs in my backyard. Well, technically, my downstairs neighbor growing fresh herbs in OUR backyard that she lets me use. But still. At the moment we’ve got huge surpluses of basil, mint, dill, oregano and rosemary. The best way to use a massive amount of fresh herbs? Pesto.
I gave up on following recipes a while ago and lately I’ve been improvising herb pairings and amounts as well as using whatever nut I’ve got in the cupboard. The results, which I affectionately call “clusterf**k pesto,” have been great across the board.
I find that a large amount of basil and mint with a little rosemary and/or oregano thrown in is the best place to start. I’ve used pine nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and cashews (all toasted) and they’ve all been great. I add a few cloves of garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and I’m pretty much done. Sometimes I add grated parmesean, sometimes I don’t. (Tip – several times I’ve had the pesto clump up in the food processor. I just add a quick stream of water while it’s mixing and it smoothes out perfectly.)
I used to just throw it on some whole wheat spaghetti but my favorite new thing to do is make a quick pasta salad by boiling a package of fusili and, at the last minute, throwing in a bag of frozen peas and asparagus cuts. I drain it all, add the pesto, top with goat cheese and I’ve got dinner and lunch for a few days. Oooohh, and what I really love to do is save some of that delicious pesto and pour a bit on some crusty bread and a fried egg the next morning for breakfast. I’ve also used it for a sandwich spread and on a potato salad with new potatoes and a few other vegetables.
All of the meals I’ve made have turned out great but I need a little more variety. It doesn’t look like I’m going to get sick of pesto or run out of herbs any time soon so, dear IFA readers, what other pesto vessels would you recommend?