Seriously Minty Mint Pesto

mintpestoI’ve been quite overwhelmed with fresh mint of late (not mint from my garden of course, given my complete inability to grow anything resembling an herb; finicky heirloom tomatoes from [the country formerly known as] Czechoslovakia? Check. Basic garden basil? Not a chance.).  Given all the rainy weather, it is not surprising that water-loving mint is doing well, but the big bunches keep coming in my CSA and there are only so many mojitos a girl can drink.

I’ve dried a bunch against the long, fresh-herb-free winter, used fresh mint liberally in stir fries and Asian noodle dishes, but I still had 3 big bunches in the fridge, so I went searching for a mint pesto recipe.  I looked at a few on various sites; most seemed to contain the basic elements of this one: mint, parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt.  There also seemed to be several recipes out there in the Internets including walnuts, which seems like a nice addition to me, but I was not sure how well the nuts would freeze long-term, so I left them out.  I can always add them at the time of use.

Be forewarned: this is not a pesto for the faint of heart.  The first taste literally grabs you by the throat and smacks you around a little.  Once you get over the initial shock, you realize that it is actually quite tasty, and would taste excellent tossed with roasted potatoes or dolloped on a turkey sandwich.  The classic combination is mint with lamb and it seems this pesto would more than do justice to a lamb burger or chop. To me the cool mint is perfect when married to spicy Asian or Indian dishes and would work well with simple South American dishes like black beans or tacos.

Adapted from Mint Pesto by Grace Parisi, at Food & Wine


Seriously Minty Mint Pesto


  • 1 and 1/2 cups mint leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, packed
  • 4 scallions, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • zest of one small lemon (about 1 tsp packed)
  • 4 – 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • couple of dashes of Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce


  1. Combine mint, parsley, scallions (if using), garlic, and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse several times to chop.  Turn the processor on and, with the motor running, drizzle olive oil in through the feed tube (start with 4 tbsp) and chop until a fine paste forms.
  2. Stop the processor and scrape down the sides.  Taste and add seasonings and more olive oil according to your taste and texture preference.  Process again to combine and continue to taste and adjust seasonings until you are happy with the pesto.

Yields about 1 cup pesto.


  1. I included the scallions, as they were in the original recipe, but they did not chop well and added a stringiness to the texture of the pesto that I did not care for, without contributing much in the way of taste. I think next time I make it I will leave out the scallions; if the pesto seems lacking, I will try some red onion or shallot.
  2. If you do not like the spice added with black or red pepper, try it without them; I added them because the mint flavor seemed so overpowering that it needed a counter-balance.  Many of the recipes out there seem to include equal amounts of mint & parsley, so that may be an option rather than adding spice.


For 2 days in the refrigerator or for up to 6 months in the freezer.


Spring through fall.

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