What if we told you there’s a magic sauce that can dress just about any salad, be drizzled over most meats, tossed into pasta as a quick sauce and even double as a super-green dip?
What if we told you such a sauce was packed with nutrients and flavor?
Lastly, what if we told you that you probably already have the ingredients for this ‘magic sauce’ in the depths of your refrigerator just waiting to be employed?
Brace yourself. It’s all true …
This recipe for a herby, green, multi-purpose pesto made with deep, leafy greens and bright herbs is a great way to use up the tops of carrots or even beet greens that might need to be trimmed from your garden. Simply blend your greens with a handful of nuts (we like pine nuts or pepitas), garlic, lemon, olive oil, a touch of vinegar and maybe a bit of grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese. Then, add it to cooked pasta for a fresh sauce, stir it into rice bowls for a boost of bright flavors, whisk it with a bit of water to create a flavorful salad dressing or even stir a spoonful into your favorite hummus for a customized snack kick.
A Versatile, Super-Green Pesto
2 tablespoons pepitas, pine nuts or almonds, toasted
1/2 cup leafy greens (such as young carrot tops, beet tops with red ribs removed and leaves chopped or kale leaves)
1/2 cup herbs (flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, basil, arugula, chives or green onions)
1/2 shallot, minced
Zest of one lemon, plus juice of 1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1 cup olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly shredded pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)
In the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the nuts, greens, shallot, garlic, salt and zest. Pulse until chunky. Add the olive oil, lemon and balsamic vinegar and process until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container. It will stay fresh for up to one week.
Nutrition (per 2 ounce serving): Calories: 332; Total Fat: 36g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 27g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 3mg; Carbohydrate: 3g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 1g
A COUPLE OF NOTES
This recipe is great, but you can also create a pesto of your own with exactly what you have on hand. First, if you have leafy greens with thick ribs, remove the ribs before you blend your sauce. Carrot tops, can be used as is. Herbs should be removed from their tough stems as well. You’ll need one cup of greens total, so you can add together the greens you have on hand in whatever combination.
Before you use any of your greens or herbs, swish them around in fresh, cold water to loosen any dirt on the leaves, then pat them dry between paper towels or spin dry in a salad spinner.
Before using the pepitas or nuts, you’ll want to toast them to bring out their best flavors. To do this, place them in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat and shake the pan gently until the nuts and seeds become fragrant. This will take roughly 3–5 minutes. Don’t walk away from the pan during this time (though it will be tempting!) as the nuts can burn in just a few moments of being in a still, unwatched pan.
Lastly, depending on the greens you have, you may prefer to use one type of nut or seed over another. For example, kale and carrot tops go particularly well with walnuts and pepitas, while arugula and other delicate herbs such as basil go better with pine nuts. Mix up your nuts, citrus choices, vinegar flavors and greens to make a pesto all your own.