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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Spring Pestos

While the basil is still too small to harvest it is not too early to think about pesto! Spring greens make delightful pestos. This Spring friends and neighbors have been sharing their fantastic pesto recipes with me and I thought this week would be a perfect timing to compile them and pass them on to you.

First my favorite, arugula pesto. Arugula is the perfect partner for lemon juice, and the texture is very easy to work with for pesto. I skip the pine nuts in lieu of walnuts in this pesto. Walnuts taste great on arugula as a salad (like the one my family ate for dinner tonight with shaved parmesan, and lemon vinaigrette) and they are perfect in the pesto as well.

Arugula Walnut Pesto

2 cups Arugula

3 Garlic cloves 1/8 tsp Black pepper, freshly ground1/4 tsp Salt 1/2 cup Olive oil, extra virgin

1/3 cup Walnuts, toasted 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Place garlic cloves and walnuts in a blender or food processor pulse until minced. Working a handful at a time process the arugula, stream in the oil olive as you add arugula. Blend until the mixture is pureed. Blend in parmesan, pepper, and salt to taste. Add additional olive oil if needed for desired texture.

A few tips about freezing pesto, first leave out the parmesan until you are ready to defrost the pesto and eat it. Farm does not freeze well and ruins the defrosted texture of the pesto. Second, ice cube trays are the perfect quantity to freeze pesto into. No need to store the pesto in the trays, after the cubes of pesto are frozen solid pop them out and store them in reusable silicon freezer bags. I discovered the silicon freezer bags last year when my sisters and I were doing a plastic challenge, and I LOVE them. I ended up investing in a few more because they are so nice to use and the food rarely get freezer burn in the silicon. They are an investment, the large bags are often as much as $17/bag however if you do the math and the bags last 30 years, it is actually a huge savings over the long run. Not to mention that we won't have to swim in a plastic filled ocean if we reduce our single use plastics in general. Here is my favorite brand (they DO NOT sponsor this blog, I just really like them and use them in my home):

Speaking of reducing waste, my friend Marina used her Fairytale Farmette radish tops this week to make radish greens pesto! I mean look at these greens, so sad that we hack them off and chuck them in the compost! Well, actually the Farmette chickens already knew the radish greens were a great thing because they frequently dine on them when I am preparing radishes. Beyond compost and chickens, why not enjoy every part of the plant that is edible and get the most out of our food. Especially if you bothered to go to the farmer's market or the farm stand and spend your hard earned money to buy it! Any way here is the recipe that Marina shared:


Pungent, peppery radish greens make perfect pesto and pack a nutritional punch! Use with chicken, fish, pasta, vegetables, potatoes or any other way you would use traditional basil pesto.


4 cups radish tops (packed), washed and dried3 cloves garlic, finely choppedJuice of 1/2 a lemon1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, coarsely chopped macadamia nuts or pistachios1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more as neededsalt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.  Add additional olive oil to achieve a thick sauce consistency.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

by Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen

recipe notes

If planning to freeze, leave out the cheese and garlic and add when ready to serve.

Marina's Radish Greens Pesto

Not exactly a pesto, but a related twist on traditional hummus, my neighbor Cheryl shared her recipe for Kale Hummus with me via email. Give it a try!

Here is the basic recipe for my Kale Hummus:

1 can chickpeas, drained

2 T. tahini

2 T. olive oil

2-4 T. lemon juice

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup baby kale, torn into pieces

salt and pepper to taste

Blend chickpeas in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and blend.

We made this rather bland for the kids. You may add 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper if you want it hot.

It was better the second day.

I have made pesto out of a number of greens, spinach is a nice choice. Before the Farmette when I was just growing a homesteading garden my husband would dread the weeks and weeks of spinach in every meal in the Spring. Don't get me wrong, he likes spinach, just not 3 meals a day for 6 weeks in Spring! Spinach is a crop that I winter over for my home use so spinach season around here starts in late March and goes until about June. He never objected to spinach pesto though because it's mild fresh flavor was a welcome twist on traditional basil pesto. I found a recipe for mix and match pestos that is a great resource. It's especially useful if you have a big bag of greens that you may not get through before they spoil because you can save the pesto for several days in the fridge or as I mentioned above freeze it!

mix and match homemade pesto recipe

you will need:

2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled 2 to 3 cups packed greens (kale, spinach, basil, oregano, arugula, mint, parsley, cilantro, etc.) 1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.) 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional  1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese salt pepper juice from 1/2 a lemon (optional)

what to do: 

In a food processor, process the garlic. Add the greens and process. Add the nuts and process. While processing, pour in the olive oil. Add additional olive oil OR water from the boiling pasta to desired consistency of pesto. Add in the Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, stir in lemon juice.


Ok folks now that you are inspired hit the fridge to turn those Spring greens into some tasty fresh pesto to use on grilled chicken, fish, pasta, in soup!!! Options are endless!

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