More often than I like to admit, I buy groceries without any sort of plan as to what to do with them. This isn’t much of a problem when the impulse item is a loaf of fancy sourdough (toast! bread crumbs! croutons!) or a bag of lovely pears (salads! snacks! tarts! jam!), but things get more challenging when I end up buying two very large bunches of curly parsley without any sort of strategy.
The parsley was my most recent spur-of-the-moment purchase. I was at Reading Terminal Market (it’s Philadelphia’s original market and is still a wonderful place to have lunch or buy groceries). One of the produce stalls was selling gorgeous, curly, green parsley, two bundles for $1. It seemed too good to resist and so I added it to my basket. When I got home, I closed the bag tightly and tucked it into the crisper, certain that inspiration would strike. My mom makes a wonderful stew with lamb, red kidney beans, lemon juice and lots of parsley. I thought I might make that.
Instead, the parsley sat (isn’t that always the way?). On Sunday morning, I was doing a little refrigerator clean-out in preparation for a Costco trip and rediscovered that parsley, as well as some woefully neglected arugula. I picked through both bundles and gave all the good parts a thorough rinsing. When I was done, I had two cups of tightly packed greens.
Digging through the fridge, I discovered that I had all the rest of the necessary ingredients to make pesto. I toasted pine nuts that I’d been hoarding, and processed them with the parsley and arugula, as well as a couple garlic cloves, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and olive oil.
It took all of ten minutes and felt so good to find a use for the parsley instead of simply consigning it to the trash can. There’s pasta on the horizon this week, as well as farro salad with feta and pesto dressing. It’s also lovely smeared on toast with a dab of ricotta cheese.
Have you rescued any destined for the trash ingredients lately?
- 1 1/2 cups packed curly parsley
- 1/2 cup packed arugula
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (walnuts are a good substitute if pine nuts are too dear)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more to cover
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5-6 turns of a pepper grinder
- Place parsley, arugula, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and garlic cloves into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to incorporate. Then, running the motor, stream in the olive oil.
- Stop the motor, scrape the walls of the bowl and pulse again, until everything is well-incorporated. Add salt and pepper and pulse to incorporate. Taste and adjust spices, if necessary.
- When the pesto is processed to your liking, scrape it into a mason jar. For best refrigerator life, cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil. When you go to remove pesto from the jar, make sure to use a clean spoon and refresh the olive oil layer.
The pesto will keep 5-7 days in the fridge.