See-Sawing Between the Seasons
September 15, 2008
As the late summer has slipped into a very autumnal mid-September, I find myself selecting recipe after recipe that allow me to sit on the fence. I don’t want to give up on summer just yet and the continued appearance of summer produce at the farmers’ markets, the occasional sunshine-soaked day and the fact that I still haven’t started my job at the law firm all combine to convince me that I don’t have to give up—not just yet. But there are other things—the early sun sets, the chilly evenings and my daily desire to pull out my sweaters and scarves—hurtling me toward fall.
As my brain see-saws between the two seasons, my palate does the same. One minute, I am craving a light, tart sorbet and the next minute I am hankering for pumpkin, baked into something sweet and tinged with baking spices that must have been born in the fall: cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, clove, ginger. And, well, it’s all rather confusing.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
So, instead of choosing sides, I’ve found recipes that don’t force me to. For instance, the recipe for my mother’s corn chowder: a steaming bowl of soup serves my need to eat cozily, but lacing the soup with golden niblets of fresh corn satisfies my desire to savor summer produce. Friday’s post—a summer squash gratin—did the exact same thing.
Today’s recipe falls into the same category. It’s a pesto—a sauce made for quick summer meals: pop out onto your fire escape/deck/backyard garden, snip a bundle of fresh herbs, and blitz it up in the food processor along with some toasted nuts, freshly-grated parmesan and a few glugs of olive oil. One can of course make pestos all year long, but the muted flavors and the sticker-shock-inducing price tags of the herbs in the little plastic containers in January make the whole experience rather unhappy. So, to me, it’s a summer sauce.
This pesto recipe trades the traditional basil for sage, a fresh herb that to me tastes like a mouthful of fall—earthy and woodsy. In short, it lets me have my cake (fresh herbs, a summer sauce) and eat it too (a fall flavor, comforting and warm). What about you all: is your cooking still staunchly summery? Or have you let summer drift away, preferring gourds and apples and the like? Or are you, like me, deciding not to decide?
2/3 cup sage leaves
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Place the sage, parsley, walnuts, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture until a coarse paste forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, stream in the olive oil until a sauce forms. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl and stir in the grated cheese.
Up Next: Stay tuned tomorrow for a recipe that puts this pesto to use!