Alibi V.19 No.3 • Jan 21-27, 2010 


Sometimes we have a helluva time trying to keep fresh herbs from the ravishes of death—by waterlog, freezer-burn or simply old age. We profess a tendency to neglect them in the fridge until it's almost too late.

But one of the best ways to keep the reaper at bay (when it comes to your herbs anyway) is to give them a second chance as a dip. Pulsing them with garlic, good quality oil and a flick of lemon usually does the trick. Not being slaves to tradition, we're quick to call just about anything treated this way as "pesto"—even if basil is nowhere to be found and you choose to exclude the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

We profess a tendency to neglect them in the fridge until it's almost too late.

We were just gifted a couple of pounds of pine nuts (what with Chinese tariffs driving the price of piñon sky-high, this was a windfall), so our minds were set on using these oily little morsels to help preserve whatever herbs we were close to killing. Some withering spinach and forlorn sage leaves stared back at us from the crisper. Voila! Sage and spinach spread. Nutty and musty, it went wonderfully on Yukon gold gnocchi and equally well by itself on croutons. Just don't be tempted to toss more sage into the mix or you'll end up with one skunky dip.

Winter Pesto

Makes about 4 cups


2 1/2 cups pine nuts
1 cup plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups spinach leaves
1 shallot, chopped
6 fresh sage leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
Zest of one lemon
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

1) Place the pine nuts in a blender or food processor. Add one cup of olive oil (and a splash of water, if needed, to move the mixture). Puree for 1 minute. Roughly chop the spinach and add to the mix. Pulse again.

2) Toss in the shallot, sage, garlic, nutritional yeast and the last bit of oil. Keep pulsing. Grate fresh nutmeg and lemon zest into the blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse a final time and remove with a spatula.

Soundtrack: Misfits, "Death Comes Ripping"