It officially felt like spring this weekend. A few weeks ago when the flowers were starting to pop up, branches were blossoming and we had our first warm day in months, I knew it was on us. But like spring tends to do, it was just a tease. We were plagued with more rain and cold for a few more weeks. But this week brought in green garlic, asparagus and the first batch of mint pesto.
This is now a favorite at my restaurant and home. We started it last spring and it was an instant hit. At its base, it is a classic pesto: basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, but we add green garlic and mint to this mix for a bright and fantastic flavor.
This mix added to a pasta dish with asparagus, or as a spread on a sandwich or as a topping on fish or chicken is a sure hit.
If green garlic is not available to you, don’t worry. You can make this with regular fresh garlic with similarly great results.
I put a ¼ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil in a food processor along with 4-6 garlic cloves, 1 cup Italian parsley, ½ cup mint and ½ cup basil, 2 tablespoons pine nuts and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, and ½ tablespoon kosher salt. Turn on your food processor and add olive oil through lid until it has a consistency of a thick salad dressing. You can now use and keep this in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and enjoy.
In addition to being a surprising fresh twist to this pesto, mint adds some wonderful other benefits. Mint aids in digestion and is the most natural breath freshener. Okay, I recognize that the four cloves of garlic in the pesto may over ride that!
After making this pesto you may have extra fresh mint left over. Make sure to utilize this great herb in everything from salads to sprinkling it on top of fresh fruit. You can also steep the whole leaves in hot water to make your own fresh mint tea. If the weather has heated up around you, add the mint to iced green tea or water with lemon for a refreshing twist.
By the way, it is important to remember that this pesto is a creative and delicious way to add greens into your diet.
Until next time, stay fresh and delicious!
~ Chef Domenica