April demands certain things of us: rain boots, patience and a shift in menu-planning. We slowly phase out the heavy dishes of winter and replace them with bright greens and lemon-laden proteins. No more casseroles or 10oz glasses of merlot. Gone are the rich stews and spicy curries. Instead we'll grill chicken and crush mint into our cocktails, seek out produce that's gone into hiding and build tall cones of ice cream.
And rather than a meaty bolognese, it's time to coat our pasta in something fresher. Pesto. While it's readily available pre-made, I'm always a proponent of taking ten whole minutes to do it yourself.
You'll thank me.
3 loose cups of fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic
Half a cup of lightly toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup of fresh-grated parmesan
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Some lemon zest
In your food processor, pulse the basil and garlic. Add in the toasted pine nuts and parmesan and continue to grind into a pulpy mash. Add the lemon juice and zest and slowly add your oil until you reach the desired texture. I used avocado, though extra virgin olive is customary. I found the avocado was lighter in flavour and slightly thinner in texture creating a more fluid pesto.
There are lots of ways to serve pesto, of course, but I worked mine into some super-thin spaghettini before scraping a shock of lemon zest and fresh parmesan across the top. Light, bright, and perfect for these early-Spring days.
Tips: Pesto is best-served to friends and close-relatives. With its propensity for teeth-nook-clinging, it's not recommended for that nail-biting dinner for the boss or a first date situation.
MORE ON SPRINGTIME AND FOOD:
Stirring it Up (April 17, 2011)
Pizza Night (April 5, 2011)
On Colour (March 22, 2011)
Spring May Come (May 2, 2011)