It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of too much [insert green here] must be in want of a pesto—or, at least, that’s how this recipe was born, as a response to too much tarragon in the fridge.
Now, I realize I won’t be telling you anything you don’t know when I say making pesto is easy but, it is. Pesto is a basic formula: greens plus nuts plus oil plus cheese plus salt (and plus garlic! and probably lemon!, at least if you’re asking me). Pesto is a basic process: combine ingredients in a blender or food processor and spin! But in return for your short ingredients list and easy preparation method, pesto gives you a killer pizza sauce, fantastic toast topper, the kind of thing to make eating a bowl of pasta a special treat. Sometimes, especially when it’s a pesto like the one in this post, I eat pesto all on its own, spooning a bite of it to my mouth, smacking my lips together in sheer delight once I do.
But, here’s a bonus trick I only learned last summer, one that’s taken the ways pesto improves my life up one more notch:
Up the oil, and you get one of the finest salad dressings known to mankind.
Does calling pesto salad dressing the “finest known to mankind” seem an overreach? Maybe. But I’m doing it anyway because, people, this dressing!
How can I explain? OK, picture pesto. Taste it in your mouth. Feel that cheesy, nutty spread hit your tastebuds, at once creamy and salty and slightly coarse. Remember it on the pizza you had last summer, the one with tomatoes and mozzarella and that thick slab of pesto layered on top. Now, take that idea—that wonderful idea—and thin it out with oil to toss it with greens. Whatever else is in your salad is irrelevant, so just imagining the greens will do. Picture every leaf, every ribboned strand, coated with olive oil married with the pesto you love. Listen to me, pesto is making that salad sing like a creamy bowl of comfort. Pesto is turning salad into a decadent event. Pesto is returning salad to its former glory!
I feel so sure of this truth, in fact, that I have nothing else I want to say today but, Eat Salad! Make Pesto! Then Rejoice!
Lemon Tarragon Pesto Dressing
Makes about 12 ounces
As shared in the above post, you don’t have to use this particular pesto recipe to make your salad dressing; take whatever greens or herbs you like; swap the nuts with walnuts or pine nuts or pistachios; use your favorite pesto recipe that you always like to make. All you need to remember, when you make it, is to keep adding olive oil until the pesto thins into a sauce. That said, however, this particular salad dressing, which blends parsley and tarragon with almonds and the bright kick of lemon has made me slap our kitchen counters more than once over the last week, so it’s not a bad one to try.
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped tarragon
2 garlic cloves
1/4 to 1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup grated Pecorino
Juice of one large lemon
1 to 1 1/2 cups of olive oil
Salt, to taste
Combine parsley, tarragon, cloves, almonds, Pecorino, lemon juice and about 1/2 cup of olive oil in a Vitamix or a food processor, until fully blended. Keep adding olive oil until you get the consistency of a salad dressing. Taste and add salt to your liking. Enjoy on toast, on salad, tossed with pasta, etc.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.