Greek Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium berlandieri) Pesto

So as to not disappoint you, my readers, let me say right up front – this post is not about juicy roasted lamb legs drizzled with earthy pesto sauce, though that sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

This post is about a weed.

That’s right, a common plant found all over the world, that many people pull out of their gardens and dump in the trash.

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If they only knew what they were missing out on! Lamb’s Quarters (scientifically known as Chenopodium berlandieri and also called goosefoot, fat-hen, bacon weed, pigweed and many other unappetizing names) is from the same genus as quinoa and beats spinach as a source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C and vitamin A. It also contains B1, B2 and oxalic acid (Source: Lambsquarters: Prince of Wild Greens The leaves are tender, like spinach, and mild, but it doesn’t leave that chalky feeling in your mouth like spinach does. However, underneath the leaves it looks rather like it’s dusted with vitamin C powder.

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Mom has a lot of this green growing in and around her garden and gathered a bunch of it for me. It’s easy to use because you can replace it with spinach in anything from smoothies and salads to creamed dishes and sauces.

I decided on a pesto to go with last night’s Mediterranean Couscous Salad.

Greek Lamb’s Quarters Pesto

  • 6 c. loosely packed lamb’s quarters
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 oz. Parmesan, grated or sliced
  • 1 oz. feta cheese (My favorite? Double Cream Mykono’s Feta made by Central Valley Creamery)
  • 1/4 -1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin seeds
  • 2 fresh sprigs Greek oregano and 2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems

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Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Lamb’s quarters is drier than basil so you may need more olive oil if you like a finer consistency.

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There’s some great information to glean from the internet about Lamb’s Quarters. I found this video by Eat The Weeds that would be helpful if you want to find your own greens. I had to bookmark his site as it looks like it will be a very helpful reference on gathering wild edibles.

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Enjoy your pesto on pita bread (or Sourdough) with cream cheese, or toss it into warm, buttery pasta. Oh, and it’d also be amazing as a sauce to drizzle over a roasted leg of lamb! ;)

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Orange, Saffron, and Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies {Gluten and Grain free}

I’m afraid my Instagram account isn’t so good for my blog.

It’s way too easy to take one pic, hashtag the life out of it, and post it…all on one little gadget.

Life has been busy, too, but I really have no legitimate excuse for not posting for…well, however long it’s been. Too long.

We were invited to a friend’s house last night for pizza and sundaes and a movie. It wasn’t just any pizza and sundaes though – it was cheese pizza with a delicious gluten free crust and sundaes with homemade berry ice cream, bananas, and homemade honey salted caramel sauce! Jealous yet?

I experimented with some shortbread cookies to go along with the sundaes. The challenge was that they had to be nut, wheat, and refined sugars free. Bring it on!

If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I gravitate toward orange and almond, or orange and ginger, or orange and cardamom flavor combinations. Those are all SO good, but I had to do something else this time. I decided to pull out the saffron my sis-in-law gave me years ago. (Does saffron go bad??? Don’t tell me if it does.)

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I kept with the orange, though half way through I wished I had gone with grapefruit instead. And, of course, I went with my favorite natural sweetener – dates!

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Orange, Saffron, and Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 c. dates, pitted
  • 1 c. coconut flour
  • 2 t. organic orange peel
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • juice of one orange
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 to 1/4 t. saffron (I used 1/4 but my saffron might be a little weak. :)

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine dates, coconut flour, orange peel, butter and salt and pulse until mixture is well combined and fine textured. Add remaining ingredients and pulse again. My dough never formed a ball, but looked like this…

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However, it pinches together readily. Make one inch round balls and roll or press flat onto parchment paper.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges.

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They soften as they sit and, if you’re like me, you like them a bit crunchy, so place them in a warm oven just before serving.

And the movie? Well, it was Frozen, ’cause my little friends keep telling me about it and I had to see it for myself.  Aren’t you glad it’s summer? :)

Candied Orange and Almond Chocolate Truffles

My Grandpa celebrated his 90th birthday this weekend.

Grandpa Earl

This guy is one of my heros. He lost a leg while in the army in his second decade of life, but it never slowed him down. He learned to water ski and snow ski after that and continued to do so until well into his late 70s- early 80s. He even gave us grand-kids lessons on the slope…though, as a child,  I always wondered how he knew how to ski with two skis when he used 3 – one ski and a pair of outriggers.

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Grandpa always knew how to take a good nap…and still does. :)

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I can’t imagine how many books he read to us. They were probably the reason he needed those naps.

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Anna, Grandpa, and me. Just guessing this was December of ’87…

Grandpa is the most positive and upbeat man I know. Even as life gets tougher for him, he’s always got a smile and hug for us and hardly ever complains about things I would say are well worthy of complaint.

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My sisters made chocolate cupcakes for his 90th birthday party. Not just chocolate cupcakes though, chocolate cupcakes filled with ganache and topped with peanut butter frosting. Yum!

The leftover frosting didn’t last long, but the ganache has been hidden away in the frig for days now. I know, because it keeps calling my name. Last night, I pulled it out and dipped a spoon (or two, who’s counting?) into the bowl, then ate it with candied orange peel. That’s when the truffle idea came to me.

These are so, SO simple, even if you don’t have leftover ganache in the frig calling your name. Ganache is just melted chocolate with a little cream. You can find a recipe for it anywhere and, who doesn’t have chocolate and cream hanging out at their house? (I would get fired if we ran out. Seriously, you should see the looks on people’s faces if we run out of Ghirardelli’s 60% chocolate chips!)

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Now, I won’t expect you to have candied orange peel on hand without a little warning. I honestly never have it around…until last week. See, I made this amazing Fennel Citrus Salad and after cutting off the peel of four organic oranges, I couldn’t bear to throw it all out, so I tossed it in a pot with some water and organic sugar and let it boil down into candied orange strips.

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Well, then I had them calling my name from the cupboard. Sigh...at least ganache and candied orange peel harmonize well.

I figured the only thing missing to make a complete trio would be almonds.

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You just can’t go wrong with chocolate, almonds, and orange. It’s scientifically impossible.

Candied Orange and Almond Chocolate Truffles

  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate ganache
  • 1/2 c. almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 c. candied orange peel, chopped

Fold almonds and orange peel into chocolate. Chill. Roll into balls and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder. Makes approximately 20.

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