Pesto…ish.

by Anna Buckley

IMG_4902[1]It’s the first week of summer here in Melbourne, Australia. We had a very mild winter and the roof deck potted garden was thriving, almost too much…

The lettuces were overgrown and straggly and the basil was beginning to flower.

IMG_4913[1] Even the cherry tomato bush didn’t die out over winter and was overloaded with ripe fruit. The oppressive heat earlier in the week had gone and today it was a rather dull, cool, and typically Melbourne, Saturday. Not good for sun-baking but perfect for a bit of gardening.

IMG_4915[1]This little garden delivers salad greens and herbs pretty much all year round. The cages are to keep out the native ringtailed possums that love the leafy greens as much as I do….bloody inner city hipster animals, I suppose they eat kale as well!

IMG_4972[1]I use the roof to grow vegetables because our small back yard is pretty much filled with leafy trees and an outdoor table. Perfect for long summer lunches but far too shady to grow vegetables.

IMG_4965[1]I drove over to Ceres plant nursery to buy seedlings to replenish my tiny vegetable patch so I’d have produce all through summer. Ceres is a gorgeous inner urban garden, nursery, café and sanctuary in Brunswick. You may recall that Brunswick is the former industrial suburb, now hipster hangout, where Christina first lived when she arrived in Melbourne (book 1).  I buy all my seedlings from Ceres because they have an extraordinary range and usually end up buying something unexpected. Today it was climbing spinach. The woman at the checkout said it loves full sun and needs continual picking. I’ll let you how it goes.

IMG_4955[1]Planting took no more than twenty minutes and I looked at the tiny plants and wondered about the dishes they might become. The red veined sorrel would be delicious with baby beets and green beans. The dill would be a perfect addition to the vinaigrette. Coriander, Kafir lime, Thai basil and chili would make a fresh green curry paste. And all those extra lettuce leaves would come in handy for a chicken salad with a tarragon dressing.

IMG_4918[1]Then I tipped pruned the basil and ended up with a bag full of fragrant green leaves. What would I do with them? It seemed so early in the year to be thinking about pesto, or was it…

IMG_4904[1]Apart from the pine nuts, after a bit of a clean out, I found all the necessary ingredients. Two big Parmesan rinds needed attention, those stray garlic cloves were pissing me off and the half empty jar of almonds and mixed nuts of indeterminate age would be a good substitute for pine nuts. Even the lemon tree yielded one very pithy lemon, the last of the winter Lisbon’s. The recipe below is a bit of a guess as I just piled everything into the blender and hoped for the best.

Ingredients:

2 cups Basil leaves (remove woody stems as they will turn the pesto brown)

3/4 cup of grated Parmesan

3/4 cup almonds

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

juice of one lemon (optional but I like the acidity and it helps the sauce from oxidizing and discoloring)

salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into blender and whiz till the consistency is to your liking.

IMG_4906[1]And not only was the garden planted and ready for summer…

IMG_4924[1]But dinner was cooked as well.

IMG_4921[1] And it turned into a very pleasant evening as we sat on the roof deck, overlooking the city and toasted the lovely little garden that delivered dinner that night.

Christina…..and Adam would most definitely have approved!

Anna Buckley Books

Love you to read my books

The Lost Woman series follows the sexy adventures of Christina as she makes her way through a world of new media, design, fashion,  travel, and … men.
The complete series is available now at Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, Barnes & Noble and iBooks, both as eBooks and print books. They can also be ordered from any book store, or by mail order on the BOOKS page.