Last year, I learned to make pesto a different way. This was thanks to our CSA, which not only provided us with local produce, eggs from pastured hens, dairy, reef-net pink salmon and pastured meats, but recipes too!
I was used to throwing fresh basil leaves in with the other ingredients and hitting the 'on' button of my food processor as I drizzled in my olive oil. I had never blanched basil before, as the CSA recipe instructed. It seemed almost blasphemous to dunk a bunch of something so intensely fragrant and fresh into a pot of boiling water - even if only for a couple of minutes.
But wanting to think of myself as a flexible sort of person, I tried it, and behold, the pesto stayed green for much longer than it ever had before. By the next day, it hadn't developed that darkened, off-color green that usually appeared on the surfaces of past batches of my "fresh" pesto. This version was still bright green and had retained its just-made taste.
The young onion plants in our garden (chives, scallions, spring onions) are just loving the cool, Spring weather we've been having. The morning drizzle that alternates with peeks of sunshine as the clouds shift overhead: perfect green scallion weather. So why not celebrate this tender green?
Here is a version of a flavored scallion oil, not pesto exactly as it is free of pine nuts, garlic or cheese. More of an herbal emulsion, it is filled with the first deep, green bite of spring as embodied by the scallion.
I found that blanching the green parts of the scallion tempered the onion taste slightly. The addition of a tiny bit of sugar brought a sweetness to the fore. You can use olive oil here, or a more neutral oil if for instance, you want to use it to garnish an Asian dish. This sauce can be drizzled on nearly anything - a salad, a poached egg, a piece of buttered bread.
I am told by a credible source that even turtles like this stuff!
(Makes 1 cup)
8 scallions, green parts only
½ cup spinach leaves
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup sunflower oil
1. Bring large pot of water to boil.
2. Fill another bowl with ice water.
3. Add scallions and spinach leaves. Blanch for 1-2 minutes.
4. Place in ice water immediately. This will help keep your finished product maintain its color.
5. Remove from water, place in kitchen towel and squeeze out excess water.
6. Place ingredients in blender, blitz until you have a beautiful, bright green sauce.
7. Use within 5 days. The color will start to fade slightly toward the end but it will still be delicious!