Spring Herb Pesto

Dill Mint Lemon Pesto
Spring Herb Pesto. Molly Watson
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings

This "pesto" of spring herbs lets you add that burst of fresh, pesto-like flavor well before big bunches of fresh basil make classic pesto possible. Here spring herbs of dill and mint, augmented by the practically seasonless parsley, pack in a ton of flavor quite easily. Instead of pricey pine nuts, this recipe uses sweet pistachios. If you happen to have pine nuts on hand, by all means go ahead and use them, but know that pistachios are less expensive and add a unique sweetness that works beautifully with these fresh herbs.

Once you make this pesto (a feat that will take you all of 10 minutes or so), toss it with pasta (topping it with Parmesan or simply a dollop of fresh cheese like ricotta or farmers cheese), spoon it over roasted chicken, serve it with grilled vegetables, or offer it on top of broiled or pan-fried fish. If you just want to eat it with a spoon, no one here will blame you!

What You'll Need

  • 2 green onions
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup dill leaves
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup sesame (not toasted) or pistachio oil*
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper

How to Make It

  1. Trim off and discard to root ends of the green onions. Trim off and discard any dried green ends too, preserving as much of the dark green stems as you can. Chop the trimmed green onions and put them in a food processor.
  2. Scrub the lemon and rinse it clean. Use a Microplane or zester to remove about 1 teaspoon of zest from the lemon. If you don't have a Microplane or a zester, use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of just the thin yellow outer layer of the lemon—avoid the bitter white pith beneath the yellow!—and chop it. Add the zest to the food processor with the green onions.
  1. Pulse to mince the onions and the lemon zest together. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.
  2. Add the dill, parsley, and mint. Pulse to form a green paste. Again, use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed to keep the mixture being evenly processed.
  3. Add the pistachios and pulse until they're combined with the herbs.
  4. Cut the zested lemon in half. Squeeze the juice from half of the lemon into the herb mixture.
  5. With the food processor whirling, pour in the sesame or pistachio oil. The green paste 
  6. Pulse in the salt and pepper. Add more to taste, if you like. You may also want to squeeze in more lemon juice, depending on how much you like that acid kick.

If you want to make this pesto ahead, know that it keeps, covered and chilled, for up to 2 days with very little degradation in flavor (that's how flavor-packed it is!).

* Note this recipe does not call for olive oil—the more delicate flavors here can be overwhelmed by it. That said, a good quality extra virgin olive oil isn't going to ruin the proceedings, so if that's what you have and that's what you like, go ahead and use it in place of the other options listed.