At the end of last summer, I carefully potted up some young parsley plants to keep in the greenhouse over winter, so that I’d still have a few leaves to pick through the coldest months. To be honest, I needn’t have bothered. The parsley in my garden has cruised through the winter, not even a couple of days under a few inches of snow dampened its enthusiasm for growth. And I’m beginning to think I won’t need to sow any more this year. The milder temperatures and a bit of sunshine have encouraged parsley seedlings to spring up all over the veg patch. While, having survived the snow, last year’s plants are happily growing fresh leaves, not huge amounts as yet, but enough to pick and turn into a version of parsley pesto.
I had a quick look to see what other people use to flavour their pesto and found some recipes for Chimichurri, an Argentinean sauce made with fresh green herbs, garlic and oil. Armed with a bunch of parsley and some garlic, shallots and dried chillies still left from last year’s harvest, I had the makings of my own version of Chimichurri. The young parsley leaves combine really well with the garlic and lime juice to give the sauce a fresh, zesty flavour, just right for spring. It’s great stirred into warm pasta, drizzled over slices of mozzarella and ripe tomatoes, or as a flavouring for savoury scones.
1 packed cup fresh, flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped,
juice of ½ lime
just less than ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
Put the parsley, garlic, shallot and lime juice into a food processor, or use a hand blender and blitz the mixture until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the olive oil (you can add it a bit at a time to get the taste and texture you want), and blitz again.
Pour the pesto mixture into a bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper and chilli flakes.