Chesnut Garden Pesto — “It’s Epic”

Last month Chesnut Garden Leader Carissa Malone welcomed Mr. Shiverick’s fourth graders to an outdoor garden-to-table pesto class. The outdoor classroom was fully utilized, with a serving station set up in front of the tree-stump seating, the pesto recipe written up on the mirror-cum-chalkboard, fresh herbs harvested from the garden, and the children’s pesto reviews posted on the “How Did It Taste?” board.

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Ms. Malone had thoughtfully prepared 25 job slips to pass out, so that every student could participate in the process. Individual jobs included harvesting and destemming Chesnut Garden’s organic basil and Italian parsley, preparing the garlic or lemon, operating the food processor, scraping the sides of the processor for even blending, slicing fresh bread, spreading the pesto and serving the final product.

Ms. Malone was very grateful for the four parent and grandparent helpers from Mr. Shiverick’s class, who kept everything running smoothly, and she reports that the kids “LOVED the pesto!” Many requested seconds, and a few girls very much wanted to use their fingers to “clean” the pesto bowl once all the bread had been spread.

The Italian word “pesto” is derived from the word “pestle,” as in mortar and pestle, which is traditionally used to grind basil, salt, garlic and pine nuts (or walnuts) before mixing in Parmigiano-Reggiano and/or Pecorino cheese and extra virgin olive oil. While these ingredients are typical of the original “Pesto all Genovese” from the Ligurian province in Italy, pesto recipes now vary widely, to include other herbs, nuts (or no nuts), as in our recipe below – try it!

AT-HOME ACTION: Make Homemade Pesto

1 cup packed fresh basil

1 cup packed fresh parsley

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup walnut pieces

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Process everything except olive oil in food processor until smooth, stopping twice to scrape down sides.  Gradually pour olive oil into food processor until smooth. Spread on crostini, pasta, fish, steaks, or in rice. Basically, it’s delicious on anything!

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