Updated: Feb 13
This Herbal Pesto-like Blend is named for my mom, Ruthie. Growing up on Long Island, our backyard was full on a suburban garden. My mom (Ruthie) would grow herbs all years round. In the summer, she’d have tons of garden pots brimming with fresh basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and more. In the cold months, the window ledges in our "sun room" were filled with the same pots brought indoors. Between her hanging plants, giant ficus trees and herb pots, it was like a jungle in our house and Ruthie had a very, very green thumb.
Unfortunately I did not inherit the same magical thumb but I have learned a trick or two. My summer harvest is always abundant and I will generally make a late August, last hoorah, big batch of Ruthies and freeze it in individual jars for the winter. If I need more, I simply visit my local grocer where I can purchase clam shells of the herbs I need for my wonderful backyard blend. Typically I will only need fresh basil leaves and a small bit of Rosemary. I've learned that although I don't bring my herbal pots indoors, the thyme and oregano will survive the cold as long as I keep them under the overhang of the roof to avoid being buried in snow. Amazingly they'll keep right on growing through most of the winter. Although by the spring they admittedly appear mostly bear and sad, once the spring starts, they come right back to life and step into their herbal glory. In fact, I don’t recall the last time I had to purchase oregano or thyme plants as these hardy herbs are survivors and seem to improve from one season to the next.
Important note about Ruthies: This is mostly art with a bit of science and alot of love!
Please keep in mind that Ruthie's was born out of a love for what's fresh and that the recipe is a guideline rather than an exact rule. You can vary the amounts of the herbs you use according to your taste and what’s available. You can also add in other wonderful varieties like parsley, sage, mint, cilantro…experiment. My only recommendation is that basil functions as the primary base ingredient and thyme and oregano are used as the second most abundant herbs. In this way you are getting the amazing medical value that this pesto is intended to provide!
Final note: this is a fresh herbal blend and is intended to use the natural volatile oils in the herbs and all ingredients. You can use flash frozen herbs if you choose and these are available for purchase online. The flash frozen process preserves the integrity of the herbs and oils and are a convenient option. However, this recipe does not work with dried varieties. You can certainly make a lovely dressing with dried herbs but it will not have the same flavors nor will it have the same therapeutic benefit.
Olive oil:1- 2 cups quality olive oil: depending how thick or thin you like it. I suggest beginning with 1 cup and add more oil if you like.
Garlic: 2 large or 3 small cloves of garlic (you can use more if you like)
Basil: 2 cups modestly packed leaves (off the stem) This represents approximately 40-50 leaves
Oregano: approximately 1/4 cup loosely packed oregano leaves (off the stem)
Rosemary: 2-3 sprigs of approximately 3-4 inches in length. Tip; pinch one end of the stem and run your fingers in the opposite direction of growth to easily pull leaves off the stem.
Thyme: about 1/8 cup of loosely packed leaves @12-15, 3-5 inch sprigs:
Lemon: fresh juice of 1 lemon (or more to taste). You can use a quality vinegar if you prefer: red wine, balsamic, Apple cider vinegar….I like it best with fresh lemon juice and my second favorite is red wine vinegar.
Salt: approximately 2 teaspoons pink salt or some other whole form, quality salt
Nuts: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 1/4 cup sunflower seeds or, 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
* note: toast nuts or seeds in toaster oven at@200 degrees for a 5-10 minutes till they are fragrant
** pumpkin seeds are particularly good for gut health: improving gut lining, beneficial bacteria and promoting digestive enzymes
Blend all ingredients to a smooth consistency. Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Can be frozen and thawed if making a large batch.
Yummy Options & Suggestions:
Make this as a thicker pesto-like then simply add more oil (and vinegar) to make a salad dressing consistency
Use a spoon of pesto-paste as a base for sautéing veggies
Add a few spoons of pesto to hot strained pasta for a delicious pesto base and add sautéed veggies on top for a wonderful pesto primavera
Spread on toast or on seed crackers as a snack
Use in place of mayo as a sandwich spread
Add a dollop on a baked potato….so delicious
Toss raw veggies and potatoes in a spoonful or 2 (add extra oil if needed) and roast
Add to water for steaming rice
There are so many ways to ENJOY…….xoxoxox Ruthie