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Anne Freeze: Ahh, spring is here!


Anne Freeze



First, an addition to my column on coconut. Marleen Hansen has told me you can purchase lemongrass in Columbus from Lemon Grass Oriental Foods at 153 Priscella Circle (off Mike Parra Road). I haven''t been there, but I thought I''d pass this tidbit on. For that matter, Joy''s next to the Sunflower across from Lee Middle School may also have lemongrass. 


Second, I had some distressing news last week. Sir Anthony has shut his doors. Bob Raymond called to make plans to take some of his French students there for dinner, and Anthony told him he was no longer serving. The main reason? Well, he had had too many nights of no-shows. Too often someone would make a reservation for a group and then not show up. All I can say is, "Shame on you!" How rude, how selfish, how plain awful.  


Anthony only seats 12 people, and he takes bookings for groups to come into his home to eat. He buys enough food for his guests to actually have a choice of items for each course. This is a huge expense of money and time to prepare for these meals. I am so sorry for Anthony and Betty. They are such a unique couple, and it was a joy and pleasure to visit them. 






The Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market opens this weekend, and I''m really looking forward to it, as I know many of you are also. We''ve got our beds ready to receive some dirt this week, and Terry''s potatoes are ready to put into the ground. I''m anxious to get some herbs growing, and I have a real hankering for some basil to make pesto. 


I thought about pesto today as I watched a TV chef make a version with arugula, spinach, walnuts, fresh jalapeno, cheese and olive oil. It was the most beautiful, lively green, and when she tossed it with fussili pasta I could hardly stand it. I went out and bought the same ingredients (except I had to substitute a poblano for the jalapeno pepper) and plan to try it with shrimp and pasta. 




Pleasing pesto 


I love pesto. And the wonderful thing is that it freezes so well, so you can enjoy your herb harvest for the next six months. Traditional Italian pesto is from the region around Genoa and is referred to as Pesto Genovese. It is made with basil and pine nuts and uses two types of Italian hard cheeses, Parmesan and romano. I have included a recipe with today''s column from "The Silver Spoon," published in English by Phaidon Press. This book has 2,000 Italian recipes. 


A couple of years ago a friend of mine asked me to prepare food for a party she was having. I suggested that I make a pasta salad, which she hesitantly agreed to. I can understand her hesitation, having had far too many in life that were flavorless, watery, made with undercooked or overcooked vegetables or too clumpy with heavy dressing. However, I have found a wonderful pesto recipe that makes a perfect dressing for pasta salad. Pesto spinach is added, as well as a touch of mayonnaise. The result is thick enough to coat the pasta while not becoming too heavy. This recipe is also included. 


One more favorite pesto of mine is with mint and walnuts. I used to make this one at my store, and we would use it as a sandwich spread for a lamb sandwich. It is a delightful alternative to jarred mint jelly. The version I prefer has parsley in it as well as a dash of lemon juice. 


There are limitless uses for pesto. Here is a short list: 




  • Use as a sandwich spread. 


  • Mix with goat cheese and put on crackers or crostini. 


  • Mix into roughly smashed boiled potatoes. 


  • Mix into ground lamb for a lamb burger or into ground turkey. 


  • Thin with more olive oil and some vinegar for pesto vinaigrette. 


  • Spoon over grilled asparagus or other vegetables. 


    Enjoy spring and summer all year and freeze your pesto. I recommend you do not add the cheese to do this. Simply put the pesto into a freezer-safe container and top it with a film of olive oil. You can easily spoon out the pesto as you need it (it doesn''t freeze hard), or thaw it all at once and add some grated cheese to it. 








25 fresh basil leaves 


Scant 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 


1/3 cup pine nuts 


1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  


1/3 cup freshly grated romano cheese  






  • Put the basil leaves in a food processor with the olive oil, pine nuts and a pinch of salt. Process briefly at medium speed. Add the grated cheeses and process again. 


    Source: "The Silver Spoon" 






Pesto Pasta Sauce 


1/4 cup walnuts 


1/4 cup pine nuts 


3 tablespoons garlic, diced 


5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed 


1 teaspoon kosher salt 


1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 


1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil 


1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 


1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry 


3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice 


1 1/4 cup mayonnaise  




  • Place the walnuts, pine nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 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 finely puréed. Add the Parmesan and purée for a minute. 


  • In the bowl of the food processor, purée the prepared pesto, spinach and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and continue to purée. Taste for seasonings. 


    Source: "Barefoot Contessa Parties!" 






Mint Pesto 


3/4 cup packed mint leaves 


1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves 


Two scallions, thickly sliced 


Two garlic cloves 


1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest 


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 


Salt to taste 




  • In a food processor, combine the mint, parsley, scallions, garlic and lemon zest until chopped. Slowly add the olive oil until it becomes a paste. Add a pinch of salt. If this is too thick, add another few drops of olive oil or a teaspoon of warm water. 




Anne Freeze, a self-professed foodie, was a restaurant general manager and owner of a gourmet food store before moving to Columbus. She is a volunteer for The Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market in Columbus. She can be reached at [email protected] 




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