Hey Pesto it's the Blooming Recession

The recession may be against us but the weather is on our side. Things are popping out of the earth, the sun keeps shining, the early blooms brighten our vision and those who garden are already tearing at the matted weeds compressed by last seasons watery deluge.

In the outside garden in the Phoenix Restaurant in Castlemaine County Kerry they have chard, beetroot and a mutated broccoli that is producing not broccoli but large, beautifully veined leaves; succulent when stripped, shredded, sautéed in butter, dashed with tamari, lemon and heaps of black pepper.

The chard will shoot and seed soon but it is worth nurturing by stripping back the mottled growth and chopping the pristine leaves into soups, bakes and mineral rich tasty sauces.

They oven roast the beetroot with balsamic, honey, and chilli oil and serve with brown rice, lentils and goats cheese a simple earthy meal with a hint of wintry comfort.

The herbs are: Pretty fennel fronds, delicate wavery chives, baby lemon balm and mint; last years parsley with its centre of neat new growth desperate to bolt and flower, straggly rocket always in need of cutting, a haze of florescent green surrounds the brittle thyme, it is alive! And there is a furry rug of oregano which when caressed fills the senses with the promise of summer.

In a month all these herbs and many more will be big producers but now their tenderness deserves a little reverence; no need to over do it though because what you carefully cut away today will not really be noticed tomorrow.

Phoenix Spring Pesto

Collect a bowlful of herbs going easy on the strong rocket and parsley.

Wash and lightly chop and place in a mixer bowl.

Add a few garlic cloves and a thumb sized chunk of ginger.

Squeeze in the juice of two lemons and one lime and a slither of zest.

Add a cup of sunflower seeds a small cup of quality but deodorized sunflower oil, a good dollop of olive oil a teaspoon of honey, a teaspoon of balsamic, salt and pepper and whiz away with the mixer blade.

Meanwhile cook a pan full of pasta until almost soft, drain and toss back in the pan with half the pesto, pop the lid on to absorb the flavours for just one minute as they will continue to cook.

Serve on steaming plates with a smudge of pesto and sprig of fennel on top and grated cheese on the side.

Now push back the shades; raise a toast to austerity, our booming creativity and taste The Good Life.

By the way if you don’t have a garden herbs can be sourced in pots and will keep for weeks on a window sill plus they do make lovely window boxes.

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