April 26, 2019
Pesto alla LSSI
Posted by: Matt Lerish
The return of the hummingbirds, the emergence of new live oak shoots, and the warming days signify spring at LSSI. This is also a time of year when fresh basil is available from our organic garden once more. The young plants that began their lives in the greenhouse next to our orchard have grown into healthy calf-high bushes. Basil is a versatile herb and is used in several dishes prepared for guests and staff on the
island. In general, basil loves to grow in full sun and in deep, rich soil. Pinching the growing tips will encourage the plant to bush out. Fertilizer with a slightly higher ratio of nitrogen will encourage leafy growth.
^*Basil growing in a raised bed in the garden
One of our favorite uses for this herb is a fresh pesto - pesto alla LSSI. This is usually served with pasta, either as a cold pasta salad, or in a cooked pasta dish. We call this "pasta alla LSSI" because we occasionally depart from the conventional recipe for pesto depending on the availability of other greens from the garden.
Almost all pesto recipes are simple and rely on the quality of their ingredients rather than
technical, culinary know-how. Most professionals list only 5 ingredients:
- basil leaves
- pine nuts
- extra-virgin olive oil.
However, it turns out that there are a number of herbs and greens other than basil that make excellent pesto. At this time, we have significant amounts of flat parsley and carrot tops and are using them both in our pesto.
Pesto is traditionally made using a pestle and mortar, but we use a food processor on a low setting.
We begin by toasting the pine nuts gently in the oven. Once they are golden brown, we pulse them in a food processor until thoroughly ground. We then add finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, garlic, basil, and a steady stream of extra virgin olive oil until a smooth, bright-green paste is achieved. Pesto is easily frozen and saved for a later time or served immediately on pasta, pizza, roasted vegetables, or chicken.
^*Carrots with garden-fresh pesto
Blog created by Executive Chef, Matt Lerish and Horticulurist, Séamus Maclennan