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Pasta with tarragon pesto, dried cranberries and pecans

The last of summer's tarragon, and the dried cranberries of autumn, make this the perfect season-spanning dish. #vegetarian

My husband Ted and I maintain a Little Free Library on the front stoop of our Boston home. Little Free Libraries, more than 32,000 of them around the world, are free community book exchanges where anyone can take a book, and then return it or pass it on, and leave another book for someone else to enjoy. We opened our library in July, and it's become hugely popular, with some neighbors stopping by every day to see if new books have come in, or to leave books in the library for others.

One man came almost the first day, and has come often since. At first, he was homeless, living in a local shelter, but he's since found housing nearby. I learned that he used to work in a bookstore, and that he has a community garden. As we got to know each other better, we shared recipe ideas and made plans to cook together at a local soup kitchen. And then one day, he appeared at the library with a huge bag of fresh tarragon from his garden. I decided to make pesto, and share it with him. And then some went into this pasta with tarragon pesto, dried cranberries and pecans. I've stashed more in the freezer, and it will find its way into a winter soup. The Little Free Library has brought us much joy, and many new friends. And now, pesto. Who would have thought it?

Combine a fresh tarragon pesto with sweet dried cranberries and crunchy pecans. #vegetarian

Pasta with tarragon pesto, dried cranberries and pecans {vegetarian}

From the pantry, you'll need: olive oil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

Pesto adapted from Moosewood Cookbook. Makes 1 cup, enough for 1 pound of pasta, serves 4-6.


For the pesto:
1 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts (or half pine nuts and half walnuts)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large garlic clove
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or more, to taste
1/4 tsp each kosher salt and fresh black pepper, or more, to taste

For the pasta:
1 lb pasta, any shape or size, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pecans


In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the tarragon, parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice and garlic. Process until everything is finely chopped.

With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil, until the pesto reaches a consistency you like. Add the cheese, and pulse several times to incorporate.

Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Pesto can be used immediately, refrigerated in an airtight container, or frozen.

To assemble the dish, combine the cooked pasta, cranberries and pecans with the pesto. Toss, and serve.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More pestos, in more pastas:
Pasta with kale pesto, shrimp and tomato, from The Perfect Pantry
Penne with roasted red pepper pesto, from The Perfect Pantry
Spaghetti squash with cashew basil pesto and white beans, from The Perfect Pantry
Lemony pesto pasta with edamame and almonds, from The Kitchn

Pasta with tarragon pesto, dried cranberries and pecans brings together the flavors of summer and fall. #vegetarian

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What a lovely idea and what fun to see what your free library has added to your life (tarragon included)! I am a huge tarragon fan and can't wait to try this pasta dish - I'm about to run into my herb garden in my bathrobe to see if there is any tarragon I can salvage. :) Great recipe and great story.

What a heartwarming story, Lydia! Books and food have a way of bringing people together in wonderful ways. We have a little free library in our neighborhood and enjoy it.

Janice, Nupur: I had no idea when we put up the library that I would receive the wonderful gift of tarragon -- or the more wonderful gifts of friendship and good cheer that we receive every day from our neighbors. It has been a very affirming experience all around.

Sweet story and great idea about what to do with our tarragon before the frost finally gets it. I'll do it with my ersatz dairy-free cashew parm.

Mary, it's always so much fun to find pesto in the freezer in the middle of winter, when you're looking for a quick and easy dinner idea!

I can't imagine having access to 1 cup of tarragon! Sounds exotic... And altogether, the perfect Harvest Pesto.
Someone should write a book, Tales of Our Little Libraries -- an anthology of stories from 32,000 book lovers. What a gift!

Susan, there is a book about Little Free Libraries, and for those of us who are lucky enough to be stewards, a great Facebook page where people share ups and downs. I have so many more stories to share, but none of them involve herbs.

This idea of the little library is so community and niceto see you have made a new kind friend from your kindness. It is good to know that there are still people like you and your new found friend in this world.
Keep up the good work and send more nice recipes coming our way

June, thanks. And there will always be new recipes!

I love everything about the idea behind the Little Free Library and I'm so glad it's been such a fun project for you guys. And getting fresh herbs from a library patron is just icing on the cake. I've never made tarragon pesto, but I am definitely intrigued!

Kalyn, we had no idea when we put up the library how much fun it was going to be! I love sharing recipes with my neighbors, and I'm so grateful that they have embraced the library and made it a real feature of our community.

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