Lemon Balm Pesto

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While I’ve been patiently awaiting for our garden to spring to life, I decided to make do with something that has been naturally flourishing in our yard: lemon balm.

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I noticed this plant a few weeks back – it looks sort of like a mint plant but doesn’t smell that way at all. It took me awhile to place the smell.

It smells medicinal.

Strange, I know. But it reminds me of the husband’s Ricola cough drops. (I generally don’t like them. I prefer Hall’s citrus myself.) And it turns out that it is a key ingredient in most of Ricola’s products!

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I actually didn’t know it was lemon balm for a week or two. We were perusing the Farmer’s Market one Saturday (when I happened to be picking up some new peppermint plants) and we saw a similar looking “lemon balm” plant. After a sniff test, I decided that it was, indeed, lemon balm that was growing rampant next to the house next door.

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I conducted a bit of research and came across this recipe for lemon balm pesto and decided that (since my basil is currently defunct) it would make a nice alternative to the traditional pesto I’ve been craving.

Lemon Balm Pesto

2 c. fresh lemon balm leaves
5 T olive oil
5 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Combine lemon balm, oil, and garlic in food processor. Thin with water if necessary. Set aside.

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Salmon and Pasta with Lemon Balm Pesto

8 oz spelt spaghetti noodles
2 5-ounce cans wild pink salmon, drained
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 T butter
1 T oil
2 c. frozen chopped spinach
1 c. prepared lemon balm pesto (see above)

Boil noodles per package directions.

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, heat oil and butter. Sauté onion until translucent. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer until heated through.

Combine cooked pasta, salmon mixture, and pesto in large pot.

Makes 4 2-cup servings.
Nutrition

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I must admit, I had a hard time getting over that medicinal taste with this meal though the lemon balm paired with salmon was a good match. And I did feel quite industrious foraging for ingredients in my own yard. But I think I’ll stick to using this for making some homemade herbal teas in the future.

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6 Responses

  1. I’ve never heard of lemon balm. The food looks delicious…not sure about the Ricola aroma though!

  2. That pesto was very resourceful of you! I want to plant some herbs on my balcony this summer, but a) I’m horrible at gardening and b) the only thing I think would be worth growing based on what I usually buy is cilantro and I’ve heard that it’s a bitch to keep alive!

  3. Oooh I have never heard of lemon balm either but this looks so good. I love all things lemon and it must make a yummy pesto!

  4. I love lemon balm pesto!

  5. Cool! I just attended a workshop on medicinal uses for herbs. Lemon balm was one of the ones we discussed!

  6. This is such a good idea. I have so much lemon balm in the garden and I always used it in sweet food. Have to try it.

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