In the summer, I participate in a CSA share, or Community Supported Agriculture. This means that I pay a local farm – in my case Heaven’s Harvest Farm in New Braintree, MA – a set amount for the season, and each week I receive several pounds of whatever vegetables and fruit the farm is producing that week. My favorite part of a CSA share is that I get to learn about – and learn how to cook with – new and interesting veggies and herbs that I never would have picked up at the grocery store. I had never heard of Lemon Balm before it arrived unannounced in my CSA share last year. This herb imparts a delicious lemon flavor into your cooking and makes an especially summery pesto sauce! You can find it at the grocery store, but it abounds in New England and will be at many of your local farmer’s markets, too. Here’s my own recipe for Lemon Balm Pesto. Enjoy!
2 cups cooked pasta
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 cup of fresh lemon balm, rinsed and dried
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup raisins
First cook your pasta (you should know how to do that.) Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over low heat and add the onions. Stir often (you don’t want them to burn!) until they have a nice caramel color and taste slightly sweet (about 15-20 minutes for our purposes – longer if you want them truly caramelized). Drain and cool the pasta. Remove the onions from the heat.
While the pasta and onions are cooling, make your pesto. In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic, olive oil, lemon balm and cheese until well blended. Add 1/4 cup of the carmelized onions and blend well. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta with your prepared lemon balm pesto. Mix in the remaining caramelized onions and the raisins. Chill the pasta before serving and serve with some crusty bread, a glass of white wine, and follow it up with raspberry sorbet. The perfect summer meal!