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Add Flair to Father's Day Grilling With Lemon Balm Pesto

Amy HillFather's Day is a big day for grilling. If you're looking for something fresh, summery, and different that's also extremely easy to make, give lemon balm pesto a try.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an herb in the mint family. Its small white flowers attract bees and other pollinators, but you'll be drawn by the lemony scent of the foliage as you brush it with your fingers. Even more, you'll like the bright lemon flavoring the leaves lend to salads, drinks and marinades. Lemon balm grows easily in sun or shade and spreads like a mint, so it's a good idea to keep it in a container. It will also spread by seeds, though, so you'll need to keep an eye out for it around the garden. The best way to keep it in control is to use big handfuls of it to brighten up summertime dishes. 

Lemon balm Melissa officinalis 

Lemon Balm Pesto

3 cups lemon balm leaves, washed
2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
Coarse salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Lemon juice or lemon zest

Place the first three ingredients and a pinch of salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Start the processor, and drizzle olive oil into the mix until the mixture is the texture you like. If you want your pesto extra-lemony, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or lemon zest. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the pesto on chicken, fish or shrimp before putting the food on the grill, or allow to marinate in the pesto in the refrigerator overnight. Save extra pesto not used to marinate meats for garnishing the finished dishes. It also tastes great as a salad dressing with olives, peppers and a bit of goat cheese, or as a spread on crusty bread. 

The pesto may be kept in the refrigerator for a week, or may be frozen for later use. The pesto may slightly discolor as it freezes, but it will taste just fine.