Where I am now, I have a teeny, tiny, little garden I’ve tended all summer long. For me, this is a big accomplishment. For the first summer in seven years, I am not moving across continents and oceans, and I can actually set down roots, literally. It feels wonderful to have a daily ritual watering the plants with my daughter and being able to reach out the kitchen window to snip some basil or smell the lavender on the breeze.
Growing up, I took for granted the bountiful gardens my parents planted and cared for every year in Maine. We had peas, green beans, corn, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, herbs, onions, carrots, lettuce, swisschard, and asparagus — all these beautiful fresh veggies in addition to raspberries and rhubarb, and sometimes blueberries and melons. My mom would can and freeze a lot of it so we could enjoy it year round. Now that I’m grown up, I appreciate the tremendous work my parents put into producing fresh and delicious food for us, and I see now what an act of love it is to grow a garden to nourish one’s family.
It’s taken a long time to get where I am now, and I’ve taken a circuitous route. I’ve been nomadic for so long and lived in urban concrete buildings so frequently that I didn’t believe I had the right touch or enough time to make anything green grow on my own. I’m happy that my parents convinced me otherwise when they visited last spring and helped me start this garden of mine here.
It feels wonderful to be able to feed my family a simple but delicious meal with herbs from our garden, like this pesto dish that follows. Maybe next year, I will expand my little garden, and someday I’ll fill our freezer and pantry with a more bountiful harvest. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even learn how to make my own pasta. But for the time being, where I am now feels a little more like home.
Tagliatelle with Homemade Garden Pesto
1 package tagliatelle
3 cups of basil & parsley (stems removed) & chives
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Olive oil — a glug or two just to blend mixture
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated finely, about 1/2 cup plus more for sprinkling
Salt & Pepper
Optional: pine nuts, pistachios, or almonds — a handful, lightly toasted in saute pan without any oil.
Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, blend herbs, garlic, toasted nuts if using, and olive oil (just enough oil to get the mixture blended). Add the cheese and blend again; taste and add salt & pepper and give it one last whirl.
Toward the end of cooking the pasta, scoop some of the pasta water out of the pot with a mug and set aside. Drain the pasta when ready and drizzle lightly with good olive oil. In a large bowl, combine pasta and pesto and add a little pasta water to help mix it and keep it moist. Grate more cheese onto the pasta when serving. Could be served with grilled shrimp, chicken, or fish, with veggies, or on its own.