The lovely lemon has a recorded history dating back to ancient Egypt and Rome. It was brought to the new world in the 16th Century. Aren’t we lucky! We use it not only for brightening flavors but also medicinal purposes. It even has an artist’s paint color named after it: Lemon Yellow. All cooks are crazy about this magical pantry staple.
I love lemons to enliven flavors; as a stand alone dessert filling; candied; and zested or peeled for that explosive punch of color on a plate. And it’s the only pantry item I can think of that has this association: squeezed.
This is why it’s been front and center in my mind. We all know the pressure of being squeezed: time; space; ideas; both real and virtual. I have been carefully navigating the shoals of studio work and readying the house for a move in the future. It’s no wonder this word popped into my mind.
It’s fitting that it has taken me 8 months to finish this piece: “Lemon Meringue Pie Slice”. True, part of this delay was locating the right cardboard. Another was placing my non-commissioned pieces on the back burner while waiting for “time” that had been squeezed out of my schedule, to appear.
As I watched the little streams of juice trickle between my clenched fingers to pool in my bowl, it suddenly became my visualization. The perfect image of a certain kind of pressure for the kitchen inclined.
Squeezing lemons clearly illustrated that the current pressures would yield exactly what I needed in the future. Drop by drop the juice would meld together the flavors of the lemon cilantro pesto I was preparing. Being squeezed by these crazy constraints will extract just what is needed for the move to go forward.
Lemon Cilantro Pesto
Zest and juice of 2 small lemons
1/2 cup toasted almonds
4 cups fresh cilantro leaves loosely packed
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino
1 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor fitted with steel blade attachment, blend first 5 ingredients until coarsely chopped.
Drizzle in the olive oil in a slow stream while the processor is running, until finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes approx 2 cups.
This pesto is very stiff. Set aside a little pasta water after draining your pasta, to loosen the sauce.