Is change as easy as Presto Pesto?

Posted on April 15, 2011


In my last post, I discussed my ambivalence about making changes in the kitchen that would lead me closer to sustainability, food security, and more healthful eating. Change is a big deal in nearly all aspects of life, and so also for me in my kitchen.

In the world of psychology, the Stages of the Change model outlines the process of behavior change in five stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintence or relapse.

In pre-contemplation, a problem behavior is not yet fully recognized as something to change. Contemplation follows when that problem behavior is finally targeted and alternatives are sought out and considered. In the stage of preparation, a plan to enact change is developed, and in the action stage, change finally begins to happen. In the final stage, behavior change is either maintained or a relapse to pre-change behavior occurs. Often times, a process of “recycling” occurs, where a person cycles back to earlier stages before achieving or being able to maintain change.

The Stages of Change model is important to the transtheoretical model of therapy as well as to the technique known as motivational interviewing. Both therapies are used to help people seeking to make changes in their life. Perhaps I should interview myself a little bit about my kitchen…

Well, I think at this point, me and my kitchen are in the preparation stage. My plan of action is beginning to develop, but I need to work out the specifics (i.e., get my garden plot assignment, make a plan for what I want to grow, plan how to get to weekly farmer’s markets around my work schedule, learn the technicalities of preserving fresh produce for use throughout the year…), and I need to make a firm commitment to following through on these goals!

I decided to seek out a pesto recipe to welcome the green of spring. There are a lot of daffodils and tulips beginning to bloom in my neighborhood! Parsley and spinach are both good spring greens, and these are what are featured here. I didn’t grow these greens, nor can I verify where exactly they came from before my local grocery. I also don’t have a walnut tree, so those didn’t come from me either, but I look foward to the day when I can claim all those things!

A tip I learned from Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I just finished my first read, but I don’t intend it to be last!), is that pesto freezes really well in ziploc bags, which can be flattened and neatly stacked up through green-less winters. I have been diligently using mine up (think pesto pasta, pesto pizza, pesto over steak, pesto in my soup…), and since it’s just early spring, I will plan to make more to freeze — in other variations like basil and pine nut as well — later in the season.

Walnut Pesto
with Spinach and Parsely
Makes about two cups

2 cups packed spinach
1 cup packed parsley
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup parmesan
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender.

Pulse, using a wooden spoon to push mixture down as needed, until reaching desired consistency.

Transfer to a tight-lidded jar to keep in refrigerator, or in a large ziploc bag to freeze.

Here’s that Pesto Pizza — on flatbread with grilled chicken, mushrooms, and kalamata olives!