Summer Sorrel Pesto

Sorrel has been cultivated around the world for centuries; its tangy leaves are used in soups, sauces and salads. You’ll find ethnic dishes made with sorrel in Africa, Romania, Russia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, Vietnam, and India. Its wide use is not surprising given that sorrel’s health benefits allegedly include everything from boosting eyesight and strengthening the immune system, to improving digestion, building strong bones and reducing blood pressure. At the Spiral House, Chef Diane uses our garden sorrel, which appears in early summer, in various ways, including the following pesto:

Ingredients

1 cup fresh lovage leaves
1 cup fresh sorrel leaves
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh garlic scapes
¼ cup good olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency. Some people prefer a chunkier consistency and others a smoother one. Diane also points out the consistency depends on what you plan to use your sorrel for.

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Kale and Garlic Scape Pesto

Hardneck garlic plants send out shoots that twist and wind into whimsically loopy shapes. Garlic growers pick the scapes while the seed pod is small and tight, so the plant will send its energy into fattening the underground bulb rather than ripening the flower and setting seed. These cut stalks have an intense garlic flavor that makes a delicious pesto, especially when combined with the tender young garden kale that is in season at the same time — in June in our Northeast climate. The scapes will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Makes approximately 2 cups

Prepare in advance

Nutty Parm (recipe is under Etc. category)

Ingredients

4 cups coarsely chopped kale

3 cups coarsely chopped garlic scapes

3 cups fresh basil leaves

1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cups Nutty Parm

1 to 1½ cups olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

In a food processor, blend the kale, garlic scapes, herbs, lemon juice, and Nutty Parm, adding the olive oil slowly to make a nice, creamy paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Basil Pesto

Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup pine nuts (or walnuts or cashews, which cost far less)

1 ½ cups chopped fresh basil

⅓ cup olive oil

6 large cloves garlic

⅓ cup nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Toast the nuts in a skillet on the stovetop.
  2. Combine all the ingredients and pulse in a food processor until the nuts are ground. (The pesto should have texture.)
  3. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Note

  • There are so many ways to vary this pesto: Stir in chopped, oven-dried tomatoes after everything else is processed. Or try using roasted garlic instead of raw. You can also combine chopped flat-leaf parsley with the basil.

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Carrot Top Pesto

Ingredients

For every cup of carrot tops use:

½ cup basil leaves

½ cup parsley leaves

¾ cup sunflower seeds, toasted

5 cloves garlic

⅓ cup olive oil (or more, if desired)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

Put ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.