Monday, February 21, 2011

Cold Winter

Basil @ the Union Square Farmer's Market in sunnier times
Like everyone else in the Northeast (well anyone normal in the Northeast) I am beyond ready for winter to end.   My friends all over the country call me to talk about the weather.  My parents (in Florida!), call to gloat, er I mean check in on us.  Twitter, Facebook, blogs(!), the news, chit-chat at school drop-off... It's all weather, weather, weather, weather, weather!

And then there was Friday.  Mother Nature threw us a bone.  A 65 degree, glorious, spring-is-in-the-air, sunny, take-off-the-winter-coat bone.  Then, just to show us who's boss, she gave us the gift of a 3"of snow this morning.  And if that wasn't bad enough, I used up the remainder of the pesto I made with the last of the summer basil and stashed in the freezer for winter emergencies such as this.  To say I'm "done" with winter is an understatement.

I think the song "Cold Winter" by The Kinks pretty much sums up how I'm feeling: 

I've seen you, cold winter,
I know you, cold winter.
You showed me no mercy,
Still I shan't forget the warning.

You'll never know how it feels to be loved.

However,  I think I may have found one antidote to all this WINTER.  It's green and fragrant.  It reminds you that Spring is (technically) just around the corner.  It makes use of items readily available in *winter* and it tastes delicious.  It's great on the ultimate winter comfort food (pasta) and it's a cinch to make.  What could this wonder recipe be you ask.  It's pesto.  But this version is made with pumpkin seeds and parsley instead of the traditional pine nuts and basil.  Try it.  I think you'll like it.  And maybe it will brighten an ugly winter's day for you, too.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Yields approximately 1 1/2 cups

With the prevalence of nut allergies I have many friends who have eliminated pesto from their repertoires out of concern for their childrens' health and safety.   That is one of the main reasons why I love this recipe - it's nut-free.  Plus, since they are delicate and perishable, I rarely have pine nuts on hand.  Pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) are now available in most grocery stores.  In NYC I have found them at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Fairway and online at Fresh Direct.  If you prefer you can substitute walnuts, almonds or pine nuts for the pumpkin seeds.  Delicious on pasta this recipe is also great as a spread on sandwiches, as a marinade for chicken, as an accompaniment to steak or diluted with some buttermilk and a little additional olive oil as a salad dressing.

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (try to buy them roasted and unsalted - if you cannot find them unsalted just be mindful when seasoning the recipe at the end)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine the pumpkin seeds and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse on and off until the seeds are almost ground (about 30 seconds).  
  2. Add in the parsley and the lemon juice and pulse on and off for an additional 30 seconds or so until everything is evenly combined
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the motor running add in the olive oil and keep mixing until the pesto resembles a paste with texture (you don't want something uniformly smooth).
  4. Transfer to a bowl.  If using immediately mix in the Parmesan cheese.  If freezing for later use do not add the cheese (add it in when you defrost the pesto).  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  
  5. Can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to six months.

1 comment:

trebleme said...

As the mom of a nut-allergic child, let me just say - You rock! Definitely trying this!