Wild Spring Greens Pesto
On Friday, Sadie and I discovered some very unusual seeds as we planted the rest of my herb garden in her front yard. I had never planted Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) and the seeds are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen:
Passionflower is a native vine with flowers that are so unique and unusual they look like Dr. Seuss could have made them up. They are breathtakingly beautiful. Passionflower is most known for its ability to help calm and aid restless sleepers, especially for those who tend to have an active mind with circular thinking. Passionflower can also reduce anxietous states, especially when linked with indecision, helps aleviate tension and can aid in subduing muscular spasms. It is amazing that such a wild looking flower has such potent anti-stress and relaxation properties. It is almost as if its waving tentacles are casting a calming spell. Perhaps that is its secret!
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)was another plant whose seeds deserve an honorable mention, for they resemble freeze dried sea creatures. Here, you can judge for yourself:
Of course Calendula deserves to be mentioned for more than just its resemblance to creatures of the sea: the flower of this plant is a powerful lymphatic tonic, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary (aids in tissue repair). It is probably most widely used as a topical application (often in combination with comfrey) for healing scratches, wounds and rashes. The flower is also edible and is also categorized as an anti-depressant (i’d say just looking at their brightly colored flower heads is uplifting in itself!)
After we were through amusing ourselves with the Calendula, we headed down to the creek to plant Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioca), where to my surprise and delight, Sadie revealed to me a gigantic patch vibrant and gorgeous violets! The patch of white and purple flowers invited us to take some nibbles and inspired me to make my first Spring Wild Greens Pesto of the season! With the abundance of wild edibles on Sadies land (which, by the way, is about an acre in the city limits in the Glenwood neighborhood in Greensboro) there was way more than enough greens to choose from. We decided to add a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Here is what we gathered:
In this here metal strainer we feature our bounty: wild onions, purple dead nettle, daylily greens, violet leaves, violet flowers, chickweed, cleavers, sorrel, dandelion greens, creasy greens, plantain leaves, kale leaves and garlic leaves (the last two ingredients from the garden, not technically wild)
We followed the “standard” recipe for pesto, but basically experimented with the ratio of greens. If you would like to make your own spring greens pesto, here is a recipe:
Wild Spring Greens Pesto:
3-4 cups of wild greens loosely packed (our greens ended up in about these ratios: 10 purple dead nettle tops, 30 violet flowers, 25 violet leaves, 3 garlic leaves, 8 daylily leaves*, 3 wild onions, 4 plantain leaves, a handful of chickweed, a few sprigs of cleavers, 3 dandelion leaves, 2 creasy green leaves, 4 kale leaves and a pinch or sorrel)
*use caution with eating daylily leaves for the first time. some folks may get a stomach ache. eat a tiny bit at first, wait an hour, and if your body seems to like it, do it up! if you feel nervous about trying them, you can always leave them out.
1/2 c. of olive oil
1/2 c. of walnuts
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (for a non-vegan option, use parmesean cheese)
salt (to taste)
Add the greens to a food processor. Sprinkle walnuts on top. Add one clove of garlic (usually I add 3 cloves to pesto, but because in this recipe we are already using garlic leaves, dandelion, wild onion and creasy greens, this recipe is already spicy enough! Feel free to experiment with different greens or different ratios). Blend until smooth.
Next, add the olive oil, nutritional yeast and a few pinches of salt. Blend again until smooth. Taste, and add more olive oil, nutritional yeast or salt if it needs adjusting. (I think I ended up adding a bit more salt and a bit more olive oil because I like my pesto to be more on the creamy side).
Spread your pesto on some toast, rice crackers, a yummy sandwich or make some homemade pizza. Sadie and I spread it plain and simple, and added fresh violet flowers. Enjoy!