by Lauren Nixon
Lately, as the heat begins to creep in, I find myself pushing away from the comfort of the stove, craving the crunch and freshness of raw food a bit more. Farmers markets have been brimming with greens these days—lambsquarters and sorrel, kale and vitaminna, chard and itty bitty sprouts—but I find myself veering toward dishes full of puckery, peppery bitter greens.
Many people avoid bitter greens, citing the heat, the sharp hit to the tongue, the utter confusion about incorporating them into a dish. Pesto, however, is a great way to introduce bitter greens in a more accessible, less in-your-face manner. That being said, this pesto does, in fact, pack a punch. The garlic chives produce a nice, subtle flavor—not as potent as regular garlic (for all of you garlic haters) but certainly still nuanced and interesting enough to compliment the mustard greens. The mustard greens provide a nice little kick-in-the-butt to the palate, as well. A squeeze of lemon juice provides the pesto with a bit of tang, rounding out the bite of both the mustard greens and the garlic chives.
Pesto can make a meal. On those days when your refrigerator is practically empty but you’re not willing to eat a bland dish, a pesto (or a quick sauce or dip of any kind) can without a doubt jazz up a meal. I urge you to dribble this pesto across eggs in the morning, add a dollop to soup, fold it into grains, slather it across roasted or grilled vegetables, use it in lieu of your typical dip, or just lick it off a spoon while leaning against the refrigerator as I often do.
2.5 cups of loosely packed mustard greens (any bitter green will work just fine here—dandelions, kale, and arugula are excellent options; also, a mix of mild and bitter greens works well, too)
½ cup of garlic chives (add more if you’re brave)
½ teaspoon of salt
Juice of ½ a lemon (if you have a high–powered blender like I do, go ahead and throw the lemon in with the peel—it’s loaded with nutrients)
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil (add more for a creamier, more spreadable consistency)
1/3 cup of sesame seeds (I went with sesame seeds as I wanted a consistency with less texture, but if you prefer more texture, try almonds, pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, or sunflower seeds)
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or a blender. Begin by pulsing the ingredients and then slowly increase the speed. Depending on your blending equipment, you may have to stop blending a few times throughout your pesto-making process in order to push the contents closer to the blade. Add more olive oil if you desire a smoother consistency. Store it in a mason jar or any glass container with a lid. Keeps for about one week in the refrigerator, but it can be frozen in ice cube trays and added to warm meals, as well.
Director’s Note: Lauren Nixon is a FoodCorps service member who has been volunteering at the Raíces EcoCulture Micro Farm plots on Livingston Campus since the beginning of the season. We are looking forward to more mouth-watering recipes from Lauren in the months to come! -NW