DIY Food

If you have a gar­den of greens, you can make (and save) de­li­cious al­ter­na­tive pestos.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - Words Kristina Jensen

The be­sto pesto for sum­mer

The older I get, the more I'm into the greens. Not just po­lit­i­cally.

I've started a new habit, eat­ing two sal­ads in one meal. I graze my way around the gar­den while I pick in­gre­di­ents for the bowl which will make it onto the din­ner ta­ble.

I get to munch on a fan­tas­ti­cally su­per­fresh range of min­er­als and vi­ta­mins with each ten­der green or pur­ple leaf I eat.

Herb and salad plants have been the ba­sis of all the edi­ble gar­dens I've cre­ated over the last 10 years, as we've moved homes.

Oddly, we of­ten seem to move in April. I've gained a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence start­ing a new gar­den in a rapidly-cool­ing cli­mate, with new soil type, weather con­di­tions, and fenc­ing chal­lenges. It's also meant tak­ing on a wide range of crea­tures that want to eat what­ever I'm grow­ing. In the Sounds, that can be as small as a weka or a pukeko, or as large as a de­ter­mined pig, goat or deer.

I'll be out in the gar­den be­fore we've es­tab­lished who is sleep­ing where in a new home. I need to start dig­ging.

I pre­fer the 'easy' stuff that grows quickly. This way, a new gar­den is al­most im­me­di­ately pro­duc­tive, full of a wide range of green, edi­ble leaves. My favourites in­clude miner's let­tuce, red co­ral and green mizuna, sor­rel, tat­soi, co­rian­der, baby kale, corn salad and rocket.

Mi­cro­clima is my best friend. It is a pro­tec­tive plas­tic gar­den mesh (avail­able from Polynet Prod­ucts, www.polynet.co.nz).

Pesto made easy

Pesto tick­les my taste buds. The va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent greens in my gar­den means ev­ery batch is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, espe­cially when the spicy mus­tard taste of a plant like red co­ral mizuna is thrown in.

Tra­di­tion­ally, 'pesto' is al­most any mix of herbs pounded to­gether and poured over pasta. We've ex­tended its use to new po­ta­toes, wraps, pizza, as a dip with crack­ers and chips, stirred into rice or quinoa, and as an in­gre­di­ent in muffins and pin­wheels.

Pesto is ex­pen­sive to buy, but cheap to make if you have a ready sup­ply of green, leafy in­gre­di­ents. My sum­mers need a lot of pesto. We're ei­ther en­ter­tain­ing or I am or­gan­is­ing food for beach pic­nics.

I make big batches of pesto and freeze it in lit­tle plas­tic jars (like yeast con­tain­ers) so it's ready for any oc­ca­sion and thaws quickly.

Th­ese recipes are a great way to use up a sur­plus of green herbs and/ or chill­ies. All are dairy-free, freeze well, and go with any­thing savoury. It sits on hoops which cover the grow­ing ar­eas, giv­ing just enough warmth to en­cour­age seeds to grow through win­ter.

Kristina Jensen lives in the beau­ti­ful Marl­bor­ough Sounds. She side­steps super­mar­kets, gar­dens madly, and loves to make any­thing and ev­ery­thing her­self.

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