Tune in to this week's Food Friday to hear cookbook author Dina Falconi talk about foraging!
Versatile and nutritious, wild green pesto is a gourmet delight and an herb class favorite. I enjoy serving it as a spread on bread. (In this manner, it was delightfully received as an appetizer at a fundraising dinner which took place in a castle on the Hudson River. I appreciate the humble weeds being honored and bringing in the big bucks.) Pesto, typically added to pasta, tastes great topping whole grains and burgers, and in soups, sauces and dressings. Make it creamy by mixing it with equal parts yogurt, crème fraîche, or heavy cream. In this recipe we can use any wild greens that are eaten raw. While some friends make pesto from only dandelion leaf (very bitter) or nettle (which generally needs cooking to chill out the sting), I suggest using half pungent, aromatic plants and half milder tasting ones. If adding bitter flavored plants, include small amounts—about one-half cup per batch. Please note: I usually triple this recipe, multiplying all the ingredients by three.
· 2 oz hard grating cheese such as Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano, cut into chunks (fills about ½ cup)
· ½ cup nut or seed (preferably soaked and dried); some good choices are sunflower seeds, green pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, and pine nuts
· 1-2 cloves garlic (less garlic is used than typical pesto recipes so you can taste the flavor of the herbs)
· 3 cups packed wild greens (edible raw) of choice; if leaves are large, coarsely chop
· 1/3- ¾ cup cold pressed olive oil
· Sea salt to taste
1. Place cheese in food processor and process until well pulverized.
2. Add nut or seed and garlic and process until medium-fine ground.
3. Add wild greens and process until mixture s well minced.
4. With food processor running, add olive oil until the desired consistency is reached: 1/3 cup oil produced thicker consistency—nice for spreading on bread, crackers, etc. For a thinner, looser sauce add another ¼-½ cup of oil.
5. Taste first, then add salt if desired.
Wild Green Variations
Here are some good plant combinations for making wild green pesto:
· 1½ cups violet leaf, 1 cup wild bergamot leaf, ½ cup garlic mustard leaf or flowering top
· 1½ cups wood sorrel leaf and tender stem, 1 cup star chickweed leaf and tender stem, ½ cup bee balm leaf
· 1¾ cups sheep sorrel leaf and tender stem, 1 cup dayflower leaf and tender stem, ¼ cup gill-over-tge-ground leaf and tender stem (can include flower too)
· 1½ cups day lily shoots, 1¼ cups field onion greens, ¼ cup garlic mustard leaves (This combination is available only in early spring.)
Excerpted from Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook, by Dina Falconi.