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Light and lemony, this pesto makes a perfect pasta sauce in the spring. Serve on high-protein rotini to create a main dish. Also excellent as a sandwich spread or on crackers as an appetizer. Lemon verbana or lemon balm pesto is more delicate than traditional basil pesto, but makes a lovely seasonal treat. Lemon balm is a perennial herb that is very easy to grow and lovely enough for the front garden. It's an excellent example of an ornamental plant that requires very little care, yet can provide you with free food for years after you plant it. Take cuttings freely; like most herbs, the balm will produce fresh new leaves when pinched back. Let it seed in in the fall, then the next spring pull any unwanted new plants to make a big batch of lemon-balm pesto. Freeze what you don’t use within two or three days.
- Rinse lemon balm well in a bowl of water. Let it soak until needed.
- Grate parmesan if needed.
- Peel garlic. Set up your food processor with the cutting blade or use a blender. Turn the machine on and drop the garlic in while the blade is turning. Turn off when garlic is minced, after about 10 seconds.
- Rinse the lemon balm well and pat dry with towel. Remove leaves and put in food processor or blender. Put walnuts and salt on top of leaves. Process until finely chopped but still a bit rough.
- With the machine going, slowly pour in olive oil.
- Stop the machine and add parmesan cheese. Process briefly to mix. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
- To serve, stir pesto into hot cooked pasta or spread on bread or crackers. Eat warm or at room temperature.
- Refrigerate or freeze any extra.