What inspired me to make this sexy sauce? The giant lovage plant in my garden. I snipped its pale green leaves, and blended them with olive oil, almonds, lemon, nutmeg, and cream cheese. In other words, I made Lemony Lovage Pesto — a swoon-worthy topping for pasta, fish, chicken, and even toast.
Now, if you don’t have a lovage plant in your garden, my advice is to obtain one. Right away. Leaves and stems of this carefree, pest-free perennial have a strong celery taste. When topped with blue cheese dressing, the leaves make a terrific salad all by themselves. Since the stems are hollow, I use them as drinking straws for Bloody Marys.
But we aren’t drinking Bloody Marys today. We are making lemony lovage pesto, and spooning it over…well, whatever pops into our creative minds!
Now add each of the following:
With the machine running, slowly pour olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto reaches the consistency you like. A thick pesto is great for dipping and spreading, while a thin pesto is better suited for mixing.
What to do with this perky business? Well, you could serve it as an unusual dipping sauce at your next cocktail party. You could also stir it into hot, cooked rice or mashed potatoes, or spread it on steamed chicken or grilled white fish.
Then again, you could smear it on your face and scare your children.
Here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above:
Lemony Lovage Pesto
Kevin Lee Jacobs (www.kevinleejacobs.com)
Ingredients for about 2 cups pesto
3 ounces lovage leaves (about 5 cups when not pressed down)
The grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove
4 ounces slivered almonds
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 ounces cream cheese
The pesto – put the lovage leaves, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the machine a few times just to break up the ingredients. Then remove the lid, and add the Parmesan cheese, salt, nutmeg, and cream cheese. With the machine running, slowly pour olive oil through the feed tube until the desired consistency is achieved. Transfer the pesto to a bowl.
Ahead of time note: If you are not going to use the pesto right away, coat the top with a little olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Lovage pesto makes a terrific dipping sauce for bread or crackers. It can also be stirred into hot, cooked rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta. Delicious!
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