Perennial Pesto

by Erin Enouen

From left to right: garlic mustard, thyme, garlic chives, greek oregano, tarragon, lovage and chervil.

Springtime is the time of insecurity, when I cultivate and wait for the season to begin. As trees and shrubs bud out and turn green, the grass grows tall and the lilacs bloom, little grows in my garden. The warm sun and longer days taunt me with thoughts of luscious greens and summer bounty, only to be greeted with half inch sprouts sprinkling the ground. Will they ever grow? What else can I do? I hope and plant and weed and worry.

On top of this, my peas were literally mowed by a deer last week, who was so desperate for my sweet pea shoots that it leaped through the fence. I was beginning to doubt I would ever eat anything from my garden this year. My mind fell into a deep pit of spring despair.

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But oh, what is that? Little green clusters in my garden? Bright thyme, tall garlic chives, spicy oregano, chartreuse lovage, wispy chervil, and abundant tarragon sprinkle the hopeful garden landscape, while garlic mustard, ramps and watercress abound in the wilds of the northeastern woods. The perennials are the nutritious troopers of spring, and to behold them in that moment brought me out of my spring garden slump.

Upon realizing the abundance before me, I had the urge to mix it together. I didn't even wonder what tarragon and lovage might taste like together, I just did it. And Perennial Pesto was born. The flavor of spring, strong, hardy, sweet and nourishing.

Perennial Pesto

Use whatever is in your garden.* The following can be used as a guide.

  • 1 small bunch garlic chives, chives, chive flowers, ramps or any other spring allium
  • 3 sprigs thyme, stems removed
  • 2 sprigs oregano, stems removed
  • 2 sprigs chervil
  • 2 stalks lovage
  • handful tarragon
  • leaves from 3 stalks garlic mustard
  • 3 tablespoons chopped nuts or seeds
  • 10 tablespoons evoo
  • salt to taste
  • Place all prepped herbs and greens in the bowl of a food processor.*
  • Add salt and nuts and process until well blended and smooth. Add more oil if necessary.
  • Use immediately, or store by placing in an air tight container with a layer of olive oil on top.
  • Makes 3/4 cup.


*Other good spring plants could be nettles, parsley, sage, cilantro, marjoram and arugula.

*Alternately, chop all herbs finely and combine all ingredients by hand with a mortar and pestle.

** That's Perennial Pesto Sourdough Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Shiitakes above and on the left.