Pesto is a small treasure. At least that’s how I think of it.
Isn’t it though? It’s a concentrated intensely flavorful sauce, similar to chimichurri, that lends itself to a variety of dishes. Tarragon pesto, like its more traditional sibling made with basil, can be spread on sandwiches, dobbed on top of soups, whisked into a vinaigrette or spread on grilled fish and meat. Top marks for versatility.
When I look inside my fridge and see a small container of tarragon pesto, like I did this morning, it makes me happy. It makes me feel like no matter how rushed I get during the work week, I can make a decent dinner in under 30 minutes.
Or I could pack a wickedly good lunch.
I’ve been focused lately on what to bring for lunch during the work week. I haven’t been doing it yet, mind you. I’m still at the thinking stage, and dashing to the closest salad joint at lunchtime. New routines, settling in and figuring out what will work for actually bringing a lunch. Sigh. I’ll get there.
What I have realized is that unless I, ahem, up my weekend organization a notch or two, the quality of eating during the week has a high probability of spiraling downward into grabbing whatever’s fast, which isn’t typically what’s healthy.
I know it’s smart to make a big batch of something — a stew or soup or casserole — on the weekend and portion it out for a week of lunches. I may come around to this, but it’s not my regular habit. Perhaps it should be, though: There is science behind decision fatigue for lowering stress levels. And, as you’ve no doubt seen examples of Steve Jobs and Barack Obama wearing the same thing every day, reducing decisions could also point the way to being more productive. Hmmm…
That’s where tarragon pesto comes in. It’s a start to making it easier for me to put together a healthy lunch.
To start off, I used a spoonful of tarragon pesto as a base for a vinaigrette and had it as you see below, with seared tuna on top of some greens. Basically it’s a tarragon-y twist on salade niçoise, sans the egg, potato or anchovies.
Yes, this is rather fancy for a weekday lunch. In fact, it made a lovely dinner and took practically no time at all, once the pesto was made.
The best thing about it? I have leftovers to pack tomorrow for lunch. Wicked.
A sauce as simple as it is versatile, tarragon pesto adds a lovely flavor à la française to sandwiches, salads or soups. Try using it as the base for your next vinaigrette or pasta sauce, too. Endless possibilities!
- 1 cup loosely packed tarragon leaves (15g)
- 2-1/2 cups loosely packed parsley (45g)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- In the bowl of a food processor, place tarragon and parsley leaves together. Pulse a few times until the leaves are chopped well.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the walnuts, lemon juice and olive oil. Whirl it around, scrape the bowl down again and taste it. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- You may prefer to add more lemon juice or olive oil -- if so, add it a teaspoon at a time until you reach the flavor you want. If you like the flavor but like a thinner consistency, add a few teaspoons of water.
TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE: To make the tarragon vinaigrette, I took a few spoonfuls of the pesto in a small bowl and whisked in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of water. You could also add additional lemon juice if you like. You're basically aiming to get a thinned-out version of the pesto, so play around with adding whatever combination of olive oil/lemon juice/water you prefer until you arrive at the consistency you like.