My herb garden is very happy this time of year and, with an abundance of fresh goodness, so am I. Sage, thyme, parsley, mint, chives are among the many herbs that call our planter beds home. For me, there is absolutely no comparison between cooking with dried herbs versus cooking with fresh herbs. If herbs are right outside the back door and free for the taking, well, why wouldn’t you?
When I’m faced with a bounty of herbs, one of my favorite things to do is make pesto. The tangy, spicy, right-out-of-the-garden flavor makes a good accompaniment for just about anything: layered with goat cheese and served with a baguette, resting atop sliced tomatoes, stuffed inside roasted mushrooms, and of course the uber classic, tossed with pasta.
Armed with a package of farmers market fresh black squid ink tagliatelle from Pasteria Lucchese, I imagined the perfect pesto pairing: chive pesto. Dark ribbons of flavorful pasta decorated with a contrasting sprinkle of purple chive blossoms.
I asked Big Papa to pick up a half-pound of squid (tubes and tentacles) which I planned to lightly sauté in olive oil, butter and a splash of dry vermouth. First I prepared the pesto and set it aside. Then I boiled the water while I put together a side salad of arugula, pea vines and edible flowers. When the water for the pasta hit a rolling boil, I plopped in the squid ink tagliatelle while sautéing the fresh squid. Both called for exactly 3 minutes of cooking time. Genius.
Right before we picked up our plates and headed outside, a few generous tablespoons of the pesto were tossed into the pasta along with the cooked squid. For the final touch, I grabbed a handful of chive blossoms and tossed them, casually, on top.
It was a lovely Friday evening, perfect for sitting in the garden, glass of sparkling rose wine in hand, my sweetie sitting beside me, a fresh salad at the ready and a bowl of squid ink pasta and chive pesto in our laps. And just as I’d envisioned, those chive blossoms couldn’t have been any cuter.
(Note: Vegetarians can easily use this pesto on any dish without meat or fish)
- 3/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh flat-leaf combo mint, parsley, basil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (or chopped almonds, walnuts, etc.)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ~ 1 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese and/or pecorino (I used a combination of both)
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine herbs, nuts, and garlic in a food processor (if you don’t have one, finely chop ingredients by hand). Pulse until finely chopped. With machine running, gradually add remaining oil and process until incorporated. Transfer chive pesto to a small bowl. Stir in lemon juice, grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. If pesto is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons water or more lemon juice.
Want to dish up more deliciousness? Check out Wanderfood Wednesday!