It is not every day you meet someone who simultaneously makes you want to sit down and talk to them for hours, and also leap on the first train home, run to the vegetable garden and start making dinner. Jo, whom I met at the Barbican performing arts centre in London, is just such a person. She grows vegetables with such passion and energy, despite the limited space at her disposal.

This pesto is completely seasonal. Make it using whatever leafy greens you have, at any time of year – Swiss chard, soft herbs, sorrel and in the summer; rocket, kale, parsley and Asian greens in the winter. You can even use beetroot tops. The only rule is to make sure the leaves are as young and tender as possible – otherwise you will be chewing for days.


  • 80g Seasonal green leaves
  • 50g Pumpkin seeds
  • 3 Garlic very finely chopped
  • 40g Parmesan cheese grated
  • 120ml Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • STEP 1

    Place the leaves and pumpkin seeds into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add the garlic and Parmesan and pulse a few more times. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

  • STEP 2

    Add the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, occasionally stopping it to scrape down the sides with the spatula. Stop when everything is evenly amalgamated and you have a thick, glossy, vibrant green sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  • STEP 3

    Spoon into a warm, sterilised glass jar, pour a little more oil over the top and seal immediately. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks (or freeze in ice-cube trays).

This recipe is taken from Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots by Aaron Bertelsen (Phaidon, £29.95).


Having studied at Kew Gardens and spent two years at Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in Israel, Aaron Bertelsen is now vegetable gardener and cook at Great Dixter. His book, The Great Dixter Cookbook was published in March 2017.