“As You Grow” Pesto

There’s not quite enough basil to make pesto yet. Basil is slow, and takes forever — and I can see myself during the busy days of back-to-school in September, trying to carve out an afternoon to harvest the Basil that’s finally started to explode.

But the mint is, as always, prolific — and there is that batch of cilantro from the grocery store that I must use up quickly — so for these reasons and more, I’m tuning every bunch of greens I can find into pesto — as I go.

I remember, back in the days when the kids were little, and I had so much extra time, even though I thought I was busy then, I found a recipe for chicken breast that called for cilantro-pesto. I can remember painstakingly measuring the cilantro, the oil and the peanuts. And today, I can’t imagine how I had so much free time — because now, I just throw everything into the food processor until it looks right.  Maybe that’s how we know it looks right — because of all those hours we did spend measuring to make it perfect.

Pesto is so underrated. Submerged in the oil, the vibrant green color of the herbs are automatically preserved and freezer-ready. In January, pulling out a cube of pesto I make today, will look just as beautiful as it does today. Adding the nuts (use pine nuts, walnuts and even peanuts for cilantro), and garlic brings a nutritious boost — and not to mention the pop of flavor. Spread it on bread, liven up store-bought frozen pizza, and your morning eggs.

Or maybe it’s because one night, late, as I was driving home from the lake, I listened to a French cookbook — an audio book, A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in my French Farmhouse. Yes — it was a bit odd listening to the narrative of the recipes — but there was a deliberateness to each ingredient as it was described, that made listening to the recipes bearable. In the “story”, describe how she makes pesto out of watercress — and it seemed so effortless, and perfect, that I was smitten.

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