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In a word: Delicious

Summer pesto is all sunny basil, pine nuts. In winter, sturdy parsley and rich walnuts stand in

Leah Eskin

Home on the Range

January 29, 2012

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We like a good sticky word, one with the courage of its convictions. Like cheese, which is straightforward and to the point. Say cheese and hearty cheddar or crumbly Parmesan come to mind. Cheese stands alone. It's not one of those shifty sorts that hold two opposing views, at once.

Consider bolt. It fastens shut, clamps down, locks up. Bolt secures the sentence: "Bolt the fridge so no one steals the cheese." Of course, the same low-scoring collection of letters also means dash. As in: "That guy in the toque grabbed the cheese and bolted." A word that says both stay and go has some issues to work out.

Likewise cleave, which chops apart and presses together. Buckle snaps tight or caves in. Clip links up or snips apart. Bound stays put or leaps high. Temper flares up or calms down. The ordinary conversation is lousy with such conflicted "antagonymns."

Hardly better than those cranky couples that seem to be at odds but actually agree on everything. Such as ravel and unravel — both handy for teasing apart a string. Or flammable and inflammable, each up in flames. Or void and devoid, equally empty.

Exasperating the ordinary word officer, who expects enlisted words to demonstrate clarity, brevity and work ethic.

Fortunately in this great land, rich in excess verbiage, there's always backup vocab willing to step in and sort out. Which is why when we grind winter pesto, we shun the coy shelled walnut, uncertain if this nut is dressed or undressed. We opt for straight and to the point: naked.

Winter pesto

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Serves: 6 as a first course

Note: Summer pesto is all sunny basil and creamy pine nuts. In winter, sturdy parsley and rich walnuts stand in. It's decidedly different and equally delicious.

Ingredients:
1 cup naked walnuts
3 cloves garlic
Coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (loosely packed) parsley leaves and tender stems
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound spaghetti

Toast:
Spread walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Slide into a 350-degree oven and toast, shaking pan once or twice, until fragrant and crisp, about 6 minutes. Set aside.

Buzz:
Halve garlic the long way and pull out any green shoot (the "germ"). Measure 3/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper into the food processor. With the machine running, drop garlic chunks down the chute, one by one, buzzing garlic to bits.

Thicken:
Add parsley, cheese and lemon juice. Pulse a few times. With motor running, drizzle in oil, swirling into a thick sauce. Tumble in toasted nuts. Pulse a few times, leaving pesto chunky.

Boil:
Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender but firm. Drain. Tumble into a serving bowl. Scrape on pesto. Toss well. Enjoy hot.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune special contributor e-mail her at leahreskin@aol.com