Monday, July 14, 2014

Basil and purslane pesto

Pesto is a stable of summer. Some people make theirs the same every time; basil, pine nuts, garlic, oil, and salt. I like to be wild, really crazy here, and use whatever unusual greens and herbs I have got from the market. They always taste good, because with fresh beautiful ingredients, how could it not. This week I found succulent, vitamin C laden purslane from Heaven's Harvest Farm. This is how to turn this usual garden weed into a gourmet worthy sauce.

freshly washed purslane greens

If you have never had it, purslane is a low growing plant with juicy stems. The leaves feel water filled and crunchy, but look like a california succulent. 


some fresh washed basil leaves

Purslane is good mixed in with other salad greens, or cooked into soups. It looks a little crazy, here while about to go to flower, I think. It is all good to eat, especially when ground up to bits by my best kitchen friend: Cuisenart food processor! 


Lots of olive oil and some salt. I used big grains of French gray salt. 


This made 2 cups of pesto. It seems to keep indefinitely in the fridge with an olive oil slick on the top, although we do tend to eat it up before 2 weeks is through. Sometimes, if I have made a lot, I will put some into the freezer, and thaw it slowly in the fridge in the deep dark winter months. Thinking of the joy of pesto in January, I will go put a jar in the freezer right now!

Purslane and basil PESTO!


Purslane and Basil Pesto
These measurements are a guide, the oil is added in stages, so you may end up needing less. Or more!

4 cups mixed purslane and basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt, or more.
1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts (optional)

Wash and dry the greens and herbs. Jam half of it into your food processor. Pulse several times to make more space for the remaining greens. Stuff in the rest of the greens, garlic, salt, some of the olive oil, and sunflower seeds if you are using them. Turn the processor ON, let it chop away.

At some point, when looks more choppy than saucy in there, pour more of the olive oil through the feed tube while it is running. I usually let my pesto puree in the processor for about 1 full minute. Olive oil is inherent to the drizzly quality that we love about it. The desired consistency is a thick and spoonable sauce.

With the processor OFF, taste the pesto for enough salt. If it tastes flat or bitter (this can happen if the greens were more mature) squeeze in half a lemon. (The acid of citrus fruits counteracts bitter flavors.)

Use a spatula to tip it into a a storage container. Enjoy on everything from your morning eggs (pictured here) to sandwiches or pasta.

Perfectly poached egg with pesto and lettuces.

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