Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chickweed & Arugula Pesto

A variation on basic pesto, this sauce is perfect in late winter/early spring when chickweed is one of the few fresh greens available in the garden.

1 cup of packed arugula leaves, stems removed
1 cup packed chickweed leaves
1/2 cup of toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 garlic clove peeled and minced (or a few garlic cloves un peeled, if you have time to roast them)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Brown garlic cloves with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.
Toast the nuts in a pan over medium heat until lightly brown.

Food processor method (the fast way): Combine the arugula, chickweed, salt, sunflowers, roasted garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl.
Mortar and pestle method: Combine the nuts, salt and garlic in a mortar. With the pestle, grind until smooth. Add the cheese and olive oil, grind again until smooth. Finely chop the arugula and add it to the mortar. Grind up with the other ingredients until smooth.
Because the pesto is so dependent on the individual ingredients, and the strength of the ingredients depends on the season or variety, test it and add more of the ingredients to taste.
Serve with pasta, over freshly roasted potatoes, or as a sauce for pizza. 

Yield: Makes 1 heaping cup.

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