Recently we found ourselves with a glut of field greens. Lovely, green and deep purple, and eggplant with no one to eat them. We believe in using and eating food, not throwing it away. So what could be done to preserve the goodness at hand? Soup came to mind, but you can eat only so much soup and it has a tendency to get “grainy” when frozen. Juicing was another option, but our illustrious leader (Chef Ya) decided to go a different route. PESTO.
The sauce pesto originated in the northern region of Italy, Liguria, Genoa. According to Wikipedia The name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle. The ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. This same Latin root through Old French also gave rise to the English word pestle.
Traditionally the sauce is made of basil leaves, salt, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, pepperoncini, Parmigiano Reggiano and Fiore Sardo.
Lettuce pesto is made in much the same way although we found the leaves could take more garlic. We almost doubled the garlic without the garlic becoming an overpowering taste. We also used lime juice as we had a bag full of fresh limes. We made 2 batches and froze the majority of it. Pesto freezes wonderfully.
In a 11 cup/2.6 liter food processor:
4 whole peeled garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup/31g pine nuts (sub peanuts)
juice of 3 limes
1/8 teaspoon/.5ml red pepper flakes
4 handfuls mixed field greens ( any lettuce will do )
1/2 cup/125ml olive oil ( more or less depending on the consistency you want)
1 handful about 1/2 cup/90g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Place the garlic, salt, pine nuts and lime juice into the processor. Process until it is a slightly chunky paste (1 minute). Stop the machine, remove the cover and add the pepper flakes and lettuce. Pulse to begin breaking the lettuce down. With the machine running slowly pour the olive oil in the feed tube until you have a loose paste or firm sauce. Add the cheese and process for 30 seconds. Taste for seasoning.
The pesto can be used immediately, place in the refrigerator for 7-10 days or frozen for up to 3 months in a well sealed container.