Pesto is food of the god’s. That said, certain gods like certain types of pesto. Those in Normandy like theirs made with flax seed, grown in the incomparably green fields of flax that are currently decorating the landscape here.
I did make that up about what the Norman gods like, though, having lived here in this lush region for nearly twenty years, I feel qualified to have this culinary flight of fancy. And today, for lunch, I made some of this food of the Norman gods. I took a juicy, young clove of garlic and pounded it in a mortar with a sprinkling of coarse grey sea salt. I then added about a cup’s worth of toasted flax and sunflower seeds in equal measure, and pounded those to a coarse paste. I added the few basil leaves I could spare from my garden (it’s been a little cold to have a lush crop quite yet), then stirred in some extra-virgin olive oil.
The result was delicious, and it made a wonderful complement to sautéed chicken and steamed vegetables. It’s just one of many pestos I make using herbs from the garden and a variety of nuts and seeds as a base. Join me for a summer or fall class in Louviers http://www.onruetatin.com/dates-fees/ and you’ll make pesto right along with me, to use in all manner of ways.
In reflecting on the ingredients, there’s nothing really Norman about them but the flax seeds. But that’s all right; the pesto was enjoyed in Normandy. Were the gods to descend for lunch, they would have enjoyed it as much as we did.
Pesto, Norman Style
You can add or substitute other seeds or nuts to the pesto and add spices and other herbs for flavoring. This is a quick, deliciously bright addition to just about any meal!
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in pieces
Scant 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup toasted flax seed
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2-3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Place the garlic and the salt in a mortar and reduce them to a puree. Add the seeds and crush until they make a coarse puree. Add the basil leaves and pound them until they are mixed into the seeds. Stir in the olive oil. Taste for seasoning.
About 3/4 cup pesto, 2 to 4 servings