I have lots of favorite things, and many are associated with different seasons. During spring, I love walking home through Dupont Circle and seeing everyone sitting on the edge of the fountain, some with their feet dunked in water. Each year I look forward to picking blueberries from a local farm. And for the first few weeks during spring that it's comfortable, I love having drinks at outdoor cafes (DC has a seven day window for this activity; then it turns sweaty and I grow irritable). I'm even willing to venture to Fox and Hounds for jalapeno poppers and bad wine (who am I kidding, I love jalapeno poppers; not bad wine, though).
I have a new thing to add to my list: rogue mint and basil growing all over town. I was walking past Zorba's the other day and I noticed that the ENTIRE sidewalk had basil plants growing along side of it. This is not an isolated herb growing incident. Larry's on 18th has mint growing out of its planters. And on 16th Street, Local 16 has a fresh herb garden that people are free to pick from. All of this makes me think that Mayor Fenty should plant herb gardens across the city. Imagine a world where free herbs were sprouting everywhere. All these sidewalk herbs, remind me of another thing I love: pesto. Salty, garlicky, fresh, hearty, and yummy. For the best pesto recipe I turn to a cook who provides endless tasty recipes that always work.
Who is that cook? Yup, you guessed it: Ina Garten.
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the walnuts, pignoli, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.