Preserving the garden // lemon rocket pesto

As summer winds down, I’m starting to preserve what’s left in my gardens for the colder months ahead.

In the past, I would put in dozens of each fruit/vegetable/allium/herb – in part because I just couldn’t resist discovering new heirloom varieties, but also because I enjoy preserving. Anything my family didn’t eat when it was picked was either preserved, bartered or shared. This year, I planted just over what I thought we would need to last us through the season.

heirloomtoms+figJust enough – one morning’s yield of heirloom cherry and grape tomatoes and a lone fig; most are eaten right off the tree.

We’re hitting the surplus stage, especially with greens and basil. I have ten cups of pesto knocking around in my freezer. Do you know how many greens and basil it takes to process down into ten cups? A LOT.

This is by far our favorite pesto recipe this summer – a blend of rocket and basil and lemon juice that tastes like summer in a jar. We eat pesto on everything – crostini, pizza, bruschetta, pasta, risotto – sometimes straight off of a spoon. We are not ice-cube-serving-size pesto eaters; we eat it by the jar.

lemon.rocket.pestoWe like to pair it with vodka sauce.

Lemon rocket pesto

§ § §

We call arugula rocket because when Nina-the-toddler was planting her first garden, she kept snatching my rocket-labeled seed packets while saying ‘rocket, rocket, rocket!’ over and over again. Sometimes our packets say arugula, but we will always call it rocket. Whenever I make a basil pesto, I use three parts basil to two parts anything that will actually remain green. Parsley, rocket and spinach are most often used. If you’re using heirloom or homegrown garlic, use three cloves of a mild variety or 2 cloves if it’s spicy. This recipe calls for both lemon and lime juice, but lemon juice only can be used for similar results.

§ § §

3 Cups (packed) basil
2 Cups (packed) rocket
1 Cup raw walnut halves/pieces
3 large cloves garlic
1 Cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 Cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon large grain sea salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lime juice

Combine basil, rocket, walnuts and garlic in food processor. Have the olive oil on hand. While slowly adding half of the oil, process until combined. Scrape down the sides, add all remaining ingredients and the rest of the oil and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides if needed. Season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice. Freezes well.

Yield: 2 Cups

Prep time: 10 minutes


13 thoughts on “Preserving the garden // lemon rocket pesto

    • I make pesto out of almost any herb or green – but basil is my favorite. I think I have great luck with mine because it’s so bloody hot and humid here during the summer – a silver lining to a sometimes miserable summer. 🙂


  1. Holy crap, that’s so much pesto! Sounds dreamy. Like dropscone, I can’t grow basil for shit. But I am more than willing to buy it for this gift from the green gods.

    If you ever need to make pesto for a nut-allergic friend, hempseed is a pretty easy replacement, with a very similar flavor and feel. That’s what I do for the guy I live with, because I friggin’ love the nutty body of pesto but I don’t want him to die…yet.


  2. I’ve never used Rocket for Pesto! I love it so I really should. Thanks for the good idea!
    My 4 year old demands Arugula be called Rocket as well. It’s his favorite green 🙂


  3. I think those are all my favourite things in one pesto 🙂

    I made a great rocket pesto this summer, but it wasn’t vegan. For some reason I hadn’t thought to use nooch (instead of parmesan) — how PERFECT! Thanks for the recipe!

    (and can’t wait to see the vodka sauce recipe!)


  4. What beautiful tomatoes! Mine are just now flowering and forming. In 2014, I need to start them earlier. Luckily, we have a CSA to provide us with tons of tomatoes! The pesto looks suburb!


    • This summer’s heavy rainfall obliterated almost everyone’s tomatoes! I let the deer eat my first crop and re-planted as soon as the rain stopped for several days in a row. I’m just now getting a ton of tomatoes. Hopefully you will, too!



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