Pesto, let’s rethink it

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Pesto in Italian translates to “to pound”, referring to the technique of pounding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle, and obtaining a beautiful vibrant sauce. With that in mind, why are we sticking with out of season and out of region products to imitate pesto a la Genovese, the version with basil and pine nuts that we’ve come to love so much?

I am not dissing that version at all. It was something that tickled my fancy when I was in elementary school.

The word pesto opens up so many alleys, doors, even windows. Could there be a way to create a pesto, using stems from vegetables, and inexpensive, seasonal, and local ingredients? Of course there is, there is so much wiggle room in the recipe.

For this version, I will be transforming carrot and fennel stems into a vibrant, pounded sauce. Instead of reaching for pine nuts, I stick with toasted breadcrumbs, an alternative to the expensive and underwhelming nut.

This version of the pesto also promotes the utilization of the entire ingredient. Stale bread can be used to make the breadcrumbs. The stems that might be thrown out are given a second chance. Thus, your stomach gets full and your garbage is starved.


2 cups of carrot and fennel stems

splash of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of shredded parmegiano regiano cheese

Zest and juice from 1 lemon

1/2 cup of toasted breadcrumps

1/2 cup of iced water

How to do it

In a blender, blend all the ingredients together. As the ingredients are blending, gradually incorporate the iced water, until the desired texture is reached.

Taste, and taste, and taste again. Adjust the recipe using your palette. You know what she needs.

Use in sandwiches, toss rotini in the sauce, top roasted vegetables, crostini, fish. The possibilities are endless.

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