Up until a couple of years ago I’d been under the impression that the wild plants growing in my garden were useless, harming those I was cultivating and should be removed. Fortunately, I learned some things since. Thanks to people like Uri and Zahia each year I “discover” new edible wild plants. I was so happy to accidently stumble upon wild spinach in my garden or to learn that all those pretty pink flowers were Egyptian campion, an edible plant whose leaves taste a bit like spinach.
Now that the fresh new garlic is back and the wild plants haven’t wilted yet, it’s the perfect time for pesto. Pesto calls for creativity, and you should definitely try different combinations of herbs and nuts. I like cashew nuts that add a little sweetness and my last “discovery” – vinegar (my thanks to Raz Livni for the inspiration). Although my version is vegan, Parmesan or other hard cheeses like pecorino are of course great additions.
4 packed cups of green leaves*
a handful of cashews
a handful of almonds
2 cloves garlic
about 1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp apple or white wine vinegar
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
* I had mustard greens, Egyptian campion, nasturtium, chrysanthemum greens, bull mallow, wild spinach, sage, thyme, zaatar, oregano, basil, parsley, cilantro and chives.
Grind the nuts in a food processor. Add the greens and work in pulses until finely chopped. Add vinegar, salt, pepper and gradually the olive oil, blend until smooth. You can always add more olive oil. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.
My kids love pesto, and I love watching them eat fresh garlic, greens and nuts in disguise. It goes great on a slice of the sourdough bread I learned how to make from Uri. My family is addicted to this bread – so tasty and easy to make, contrary to all expectations, since the starter for this recipe is a piece of fermented dough from a previous batch that’s very stable and doesn’t need any special treatment. Uri has the recipes for the starter and the bread on his site (only in Hebrew, sorry).
About two months ago I styled and photographed the silver jewelry for JewelyRay (soon on their site) in the Avtalyon olive oil mill. It’s a great place to stop for a cup of coffee with a Greek pastry, enjoy the view under the lovely grapevine bower or buy high quality olive oil. The sourdough bread was part of the props I brought for the shooting, and I grabbed a few shots for the blog.