I had to ask my husband the professional philosopher tonight, “What’s the name of the idea about how much of something you have to take away before it ceases to be that thing?”
“The Sorites Paradox.”
“May I call this Sorites Paradox Pesto?”
“It’ll be clear that you’re married to a philosopher. It’s also called the Paradox of the Heap.”
“That’s okay. ‘Sorites Paradox Pesto’ sounds better than ‘Paradox of the Heap Pesto’ anway. ‘Heap’ isn’t really a good word for a recipe title.”
Classic pesto: Basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, salt. This shares only the last two ingredients and the method, and is by dint of that vegan and still interpretable as pesto. The method is what’s really important.
We put big dollops of this on top of an otherwise very plain-Jane white bean soup, a place I sometimes put gremolata. It would be good applied to just about anything that would hold still long enough – broiled on bread, tossed with pasta, incorporated into an oil-and-vinegar dressing, heated and mixed with wilted greens.
3 c. parsley (I used curly. I like it and I think I’m the last person using it.)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c. blanched almonds
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Place the parsley and garlic into the work bowl of a food processor. (Did anyone in the U.S. make pesto before food processors were widely available? That would be an interesting set of trends to look at. They seem to have happened roughly concurrently.) Process until thoroughly chopped but not pureed. Turn into a medium-sized bowl.
Place the almonds in the work bowl and process, pulsing, until also thoroughly chopped. (Constant processing will quickly yield almond butter.) Turn into the bowl with the parsley.
Repeat the same process with the artichoke hearts, leaving them in the work bowl. Return the remaining ingredients to the work bowl, add the olive oil and pulse briefly to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Remember that the artichoke hearts are already quite salty.
Makes about 2 cups.