I don’t know what made me think that my immediate surroundings would be lush and green upon waking-up this past Monday morning. It was April 1st, ten days into Springtime, and surely that was enough time for Mother Nature to bring life back - in the form of green grass, buds and leaves on the bushes and trees, even some birds flying around and singing their sweet melodies. But no, just one look outside and I see barren trees, lifeless lawns, and a few squirrels running around my yard. The calendar may say it’s Spring, but it doesn’t look or feel like we’re in the season yet!
Slowly, my cooking has been leaning out of wintertime habits and reaching into the lightness of Spring. I’ve roasted less sweet potatoes over the past few weeks as my cravings for root vegetables has diminished. Instead, I find myself reaching for lentils and sprouts to pile on top of my lunchtime salads. I enjoy germinating and growing my own sprouts during the warmer months of the year, it’s a really simple kitchen project that yields lots of delicious sprouts for a fraction of the price of buying them at the market. Have you ever tried to grow your own sprouts?
Aside from lightening-up my meals, I’m looking for more greenery on my plate. More freshness, more acidity, more punchy flavors. Drizzling some of my Vibrant Parsley Pesto over the top of nearly lunch bowl I make has been the easiest way to bring Springtime to my taste buds! Last year at this time, I went through a month-long phase in which I wanted to eat parsley all the time. It felt bizarre to me - why would I be suddenly craving parsley? I remember talking with my über-knowledgeable acupuncturist/herbalist about my parsley addiction, but she didn’t think it was strange at all. She explained to me that in the belief and practice of Five Element Healing, Springtime is the season of renewal and corresponds to wood. The color green is associated with wood, and the liver is the organ (the body’s largest, other than skin) which is affected by the season. If you’ve heard of people going on a Spring detox, the purpose is to flush the liver of the stagnation that has built-up over the wintertime months (the season of excess).
Parsley is a detoxifying herb, which aids in the liver in cleansing the body. Incorporating parsley, along with other detoxifying herbs and plants, is a natural remedy for the body in the Springtime. Finding ways to use my Vibrant Parsley Pesto has been as simple as mixing a spoonful into my hummus or swirling a spoonful into a bowl of warm grains. It’s even a delicious accompaniment to a bowl of plain yogurt, turning the pure white yogurt into a pretty shade of green with a lot of tanginess. Yum! I’ve also been known to eat a spoonful of pesto right from the jar, it’s that good.
All of the ingredients in my Vibrant Parsley Pesto are basic, there’s nothing obscure or hard to acquire. And unlike traditional basil pesto, this recipe is dairy-free. I’ve given some suggestions for using the pesto in the notes section of the recipe, but I encourage you to add the pesto to any recipe that could use a little bit of green brightness and zingy freshness. How soon are you going to make yourself some pesto???
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Vibrant Parsley Pesto
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1/3 C sliced almonds
2 C tightly-packed parsley leaves & tender stems
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 t sea salt, plus additional, to taste
Toast sliced almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent the nuts from burning. Remove from the skillet to cool to room temperature.
Gently wash and completely dry the parsley. Set aside.
In the bowl of a mini-prep food processor, pulse the toasted almonds until broken-down into small pieces. Avoid over-processing, the almonds should retain texture and not be sand-like in consistency. Remove from the processor and set aside.
Place half of the parsley into the food processor, along with 2T of the olive oil. Pulse until the leaves are cut into small pieces, stopping periodically to scrape-down the sides of the bowl. The parsley should retain some texture and not become fully puréed. Remove the first batch to a mixing bowl and continue with the remainder of the parsley and another 2T of the olive oil.
Once all of the parsley is blended with the olive oil, place all of the parsley, the almonds, the remaining 1T olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 t sea salt into the food processor. Pulse to combine, being careful to avoid over-blending. Scrape-down the sides of the bowl and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, if needed. The pesto should be chunky, not smooth.
Remove the pesto from the food processor to a small bowl or jar, cover and chill for at least an hour to allow the flavors to mellow-out.
Use the pesto in your favorite recipes - tossed in hot pasta, spooned over roasted vegetables, mixed into a bowl of hummus, as a sandwich spread, or as a dip for vegetables & crackers.
recipe yields approximately 1 C of pesto
double the recipe, using a full-size food processor instead of a mini-prep
pesto keeps well for 2-3 days in a covered container in the refrigerator; stir well before using
to make nut-free, substitute sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for the sliced almonds