Pesto is a base recipe for food as medicine. The herbs you use for pesto are concentrated sources of health-enhancing nutrients. Through the seasons, you can make several batches for use on cooked vegetables, grains, really anything and everything.
Pesto is also a great recipe to begin to explore a little wild plant medicine.
When I speak of wild plants, I’m talking about plants you collect from your (unsprayed with chemicals!) lawn or the edge of a forest. I’m talking about dandelion greens, garlic mustard, mugwort and the like. Many of these wild plants are strongly flavored – I think of them as the wild game of the plant world – and just a little wild food does a human good. So, in pesto, I will mix familiar herbs like basil with a bit of the stronger wild stuff like dandelion or garlic mustard, depending upon what’s tender and not overwhelming (dandelions, for example, get more and more bitter as the season progresses).
Here is a base recipe for pesto I use and modify based on what’s available. Sometimes I use cheese, often not (I love to eat a lot of it, and cheese is not the most health-enhancing food for me, so I use just a smidgen). I can use creamy pine nuts, toasted walnuts, or sweet almonds depending upon the herbs I have, the flavors I’d like to play with, and what I’m hankering for.
Here it is:
Herbal Pesto Recipe
- 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 1/2 cups fresh leafy green herbs basil, cilantro, thyme, parsley or your favorite
- 1/2 cup wild savory herbs garlic basil, dandelion
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and center woody section removed
- 1/2 cup nuts or seeds pepitas, walnuts, almonds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Pour oil into a blender, add garlic, nuts, and herbs in thirds and blend to that lovely pesto loose paste-like consistency.
- Add salt.
This is great, I love the discussion about why pesto is beneficial
Thanks Abbie – I know you know from experience how wonderful our herbal friends are!
Wow I feel like I just walked through a forest reading this! Great insights. I wish I knew more about wild herbs!
Thanks Stacey, and stay tuned! This is an area that has just given me, as a nutritionist, more tools for integrated healing and those I serve love it.
Looks amazing! I LOVE pesto and this looks so perfect for summer!
“Food as Medicine” – love the spin. It surely can be and with all the herbs/greens, this delicious pesto surely is.
I’m definitely pinning this post so I can have your step-by-step directions on-hand.
Awww thanks Holley.
yum!! Pestos are such a great condiment and so versatile! They go with practically anything!
Agree, thanks Lindsey!
I love pesto and love that you are creative with ingredients in your recipe. Next time I’ll step outside of my pesto comfort zone!
Thanks Sarah and yeah, go for pesto zesto!
What a fun recipe, and delicious way to include some wild greens in your diet! I am a huge pesto fan, so can’t wait to try this!
Great. Let me know how it goes!
Loved the explanation of pesto! It is so delicious and versatile!