Eat Mendocino

2 women, 365 days, 3,878 square miles


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How to make pesto out of anything

When you’re eating with the seasons, spring and early summer are FULL of greens. Like, too many greens. In the garden, at the farm stand, in the CSA box, and growing wild everywhere.

Pesto is a great way to process large amounts of greens and have a great spread at the ready, or frozen for later. It seems fresh pesto keeps getting more expensive in the store, especially the more obscure the recipe. The irony is pesto can be made with whatever you have around and usually what is abundant is actually cheaper. I think the price markup is for creativity as much as convenience.

What is pesto, really?

Yes, pesto is often made out of basil and in Italy some believe that Pesto alla genovese  made with Genovese basil is the only true pesto. The word pesto literally means “I beat” in Italian, referring to how pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle.

I adore the passion of Italian food culture but, if you’re willing to venture outside the basil box, pesto can be a fun universe of options. Spoiler alert: you don’t need a mortar and pestle either for this heathen recipe.

I was inspired to get more adventurous with this simple & highly adaptable recipe from local life coach Ruby Christine. She makes it easy and non-intimidating to play around with pesto ingredients.

Plus she shares the one secret that makes all the difference.

Pictured is some experimental Parsley + Pumpkin Seed Pesto following her guidelines, which came out great!

parsley pepito pesto

Simple Pesto
by Ruby Christine @therubychristine

2 cups greens or fresh herbs
1 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1/2-1 tsp salt
1/2 cup nuts or seeds
1/4 – 1/2 cup hard cheese (optional)

Here’s the secret: you must use fresh lemon juice and you must toast the nuts or seeds!

Instructions:

Blend or food process everything but the cheese, it will be easier to add in after it’s a little bit mixed!

Taste and add more olive oil (or even a little water) to consistency! To get it a little more bright add more lemon and salt!

Ruby’s coaching on what to use for your pesto:

You can get super creative with the greens! 

This week I did radish greens w/ sprouted toasted pumpkin seeds pesto: It’s super bright, a little bitter (good for digestion) and brilliant chlorophyll green. <Not for the faint of heart.>

You can go super typical with basil and pine nuts (I prefer walnuts) or get a little south of the border with cilantro (lovely with pumpkin seeds, or do a blend of basil and 2 Tbsp fresh oregano, I love stinging nettle walnut pesto! And this winter I got super into a blanched kale or chard sunflower seed pesto!

Follow Ruby for more recipe inspiration @therubychristine on Instagram or @rubychristine on Facebook. And do let us know what your favorite pesto combos are!

UPDATE 6/27/20:

A reader (and local writer) used this recipe to make 5 jars of 3 types of pesto with greens and herbs picked from her garden, and then sent me the pictures of this beautiful homemade pesto pizza!

pesto_pizza_sliced

Nicole shares her pizza pesto combo: This one was made with (bitter) greens + olive oil, lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan and salt. All in food processor. Extra olive oil works well if using on pizza so not too dry.

And, while we’re getting things done let’s all take a moment to demand justice for Breonna Taylor. Because if I have time to make pesto, I have time to stand for #blacklivesmatter.

It’s been over 100 days since Breonna Taylor was killed, and the police who murdered her have still not been arrested. Say her name and take action here.

  • Sign the Change.org petition
  • Sign the Fight for Breonna petition
  • Call Attorney General Daniel Cameron who is now leading the internal investigation: 502-696-5300
  • Call Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear 502-564-2611
  • Call Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer: 502-574-2003
  • Call Interim Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder: 502-574-7660


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How to make raw zucchini pasta

To me, zucchini defines summertime. Growing up in my parent’s garden in Chico (where squash could grow into baseball bats in a weekend) there was always more zucchini than we knew what to do with. Thus, I have a really hard time paying for zucchini – but here in the fogbelt, a girl has to do drastic things like wear wool socks in July and buy zucchini at the farmers’ market if she wants to believe that summer does exist, somewhere.

I love zucchini in many forms, and never really tire of it, but this has become one of my favorite ways to eat them. Zucchini pasta is the ultimate summer dish; you can use something that is abundantly available and you don’t even have to cook it. It is as fresh as it can get, super healthy, extremely easy to make and has a wonderful pasta-like texture that takes on sauce very well. Skeptics, try it before you hate on it. I have brought this to potlucks before and people didn’t even know that it wasn’t “real” pasta. I also think that this pasta would hold up well in a stir-fry if you were going for a Chinese-style noodle dish.

All you need is a veggie spiralizer like this. I purchased mine at the Living Light Culinary Institute marketplace in Fort Bragg. You can also order them through the Living Light online store.

Veggie spiralizer

It’s very simple to use. You just mount the zucchini and turn the handle to crank out the noodles. It’s easiest to use straight squash, or cut them into smaller chunks if they are crooked. This is what the spiralized zucchini noodles look like.

Zucchini pasta noodles

You can use any kind of sauce or dressing on your noodles and add other veggies, herbs/seasonings, and cheese. This time I mixed in some of Mom’s famous parsley pesto and sea salt. *Pesto lovers: using parsley is a great option when the basil isn’t growing yet.

Zucchini pasta tossed with parsley pesto

Topped off with some sungold cherry tomatoes and ready to enjoy!

Zucchini pasta w/ pesto and cherry tomatoes