Beyond Basil: herbs and greens for pesto

organic parsley and thyme

At the beginning of summer, I tell myself I’m going to process food for winter storage in small batches.

That I’m not going to leave it all to the end of the season.  That it will be more manageable this way.

And then the end of the season comes, and I realize the only thing stored away so far are roasted tomatoes.   Whatever pesto I made (and it was a lot) never made it to the freezer.  It ended up in our bellies instead.

So yesterday I spent the day processing pesto and magic soup starter (more on that later).  We cleared the last of the basil from the greenhouse to make way for winter greens, and with a full tote of basil, plus a crate of chard and parsley, I set to work.

When we think of pesto, basil always comes to mind, but I like to mix it up.  

While I typically use basil to anchor the recipe, you don’t need it.  Try parsley or cilantro instead.  Get wild and throw in a sprig of rosemary or sprinkle in some thyme.  Add some bitters with dandelion leaf.

organic chard

My favorite combination is basil and parsley.  Over the years of making pesto for our CSA, I’ve found that spinach and chard are great additions, adding creaminess to non-dairy pestos.  (If you’re eating dairy, try mixing in goat cheese for an extra smooth pesto).  The juice from the greens also cuts down on the amount of oil needed.

So if you’re like me and doing it all at once, cheers!  Turn on some music and get processing.  Play around with the ratios and types of herbs to find your perfect pesto.  And to get you started, here’s the recipe I made yesterday:

Basil-Parsley Pesto
This version uses basil, parsley, and chard. You can adjust the amounts of each herb to taste, and substitute spinach for chard.
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ⅛ C lemon juice
  • ¼ C extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 C packed basil
  • 1 C parsley
  • 1 C packed chard
  1. In a food processor, add garlic, sea salt, and lemon juice, and process for 30 seconds
  2. Add basil, parsley, and chard
  3. Drizzle olive oil over herbs and greens, and process until smooth (you may need to stop to scrape down the sides of the processor part way through).
  4. Pack in a freezer-safe container and freeze for winter use.

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