Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Nettle, Sorrel and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

More adventures with stinging nettles. With an enormous bunch of sorrel and some nettles I ended up with 2 cups of lemony tangy complex pesto. Sorrel has prominent lemony taste, it goes really nice with fish for this reason, but is too sour for me to eat a pile of it. It is a very unusual green, and you should pick some up if you find it at the market. By pureeing it with olive oil the sorrel becomes more gentle, sort of poetic. 
Toasting pumpkin seeds

Toasted pumpkin seeds give a nutty depth to any pesto. I use them instead of pine nuts which can be so expensive. Pumpkin seeds or pepitas are sold shelled and green. And they are chock full of good minerals and viamins like zinc and magnesium. We should all eat more seeds I think. Put them in a dry pan and cook on the stove or in the oven till they puff and turn a little brown. They are really good on salads too.
Nettle, Sorrel and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Nettle Sorrel and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

about 4 cups fresh sorrel
equal or less of nettle tops
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
about 1/2 cup olive oil

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet on medium heat. Stir them so they toast evenly. When there are spots of toasty brown and the seeds have puffed they are ready.

The nettles need to be cooked to remove the sting. Put a cup of water in the bottom of a pot, bring to a boil on high heat. Put the nettles into a steamer basket and place over the boiling water. Cover. Seam the nettles for about 7 minutes. When they are thoroughly wilted the sting will be gone. Remove them from the heat to cool a bit.

Pack the sorrel leaves into the bowl of a food processor with a good glug of olive oil to help in the mixing. Process it down to a puree.

Add the steamed nettles, pumpkin seeds, more olive oil and a good pinch of salt. Process for a minute so it all becomes pesto. Add olive oil as needed to make the consistency spoon-able. As the blade goes around the pesto should whirlpool around, if it is too dry pour in more oil, its really good for you. Take a taste and add more salt if necessary. 

I served it on quinoa pasta with just picked dandelion flowers. And maybe you can see the sardine fillets peaking out under the petals. The sardines were so good with the sorrel pesto, the lemon flavor from the greens balanced the oily fish. I'm not sure that dandelion flowers are good for anything but they are just so fun and pretty.

Sorrel, Nettle Pesto with Sardines and Dandelions

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