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! ;)

A Profusion of Parsley – Pesto Anyone?

So, we’re getting ready to head out of town tomorrow. The morning was spent in the garden mulching everything, putting cages around the tomatoes, and picking what produce could be picked. Peppers and parsley…and more and more parsley. What do you do with buckets of parsley when you’re going out of town the very next day???

I decided to make Parsley Pesto to freeze and, since we’re going out of town – hence cleaning the frig out – I used feta cheese in place of the usual Parmesan. However Parsley Pesto with Parmesan has a better ring to it than Parsley Pesto with Feta. If you serve it with pasta it’s even more preferable.

So, if you find yourself in our position, pick up the parsley, pull out the processor and plunge into the pesto making procedure!

Pardon my alliterations, really.  I can’t help it.

Parsley Pesto

8 c. fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic

1/4 c. feta cheese

1/2 t. salt

1/4 c. olive oil

1/4 walnuts

Pulse parsley in processor until pulverized. (See! How else would you word that sentence with such precision?!!) You may have to chop half the parsley before adding the other half in order for it to fit.

Add remaining ingredients and pulse profusely.

One great thing about parsley pesto is that you don’t have to worry about it going brown on you like pesto made with basil does. And the great thing about pesto is that it’s SO versatile. Here are some variations for your perusal. Just pick one or two (or more!) items from each category and combine to create your own unique flavor.

Greens – kale, spinach, oregano, basil, parsley

Cheese – feta, Parmesan, goat cheese, blue cheese

Nuts – walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds

Oil – olive, safflower, walnut, sesame

Garlic – hmmm…no good substitute for garlic. Sorry.

Another great thing about pesto? It freezes really well. I like to freeze mine in quart sized Ziplocks. Press all the air out and flatten pesto as thin as possible. This way, it thaws in minutes if you forget to pull it out of the freezer. Just dunk it in some water for even faster thawing.

So, while I was whipping this up, I decide I needed to look up parsley to see what kind of nutrient punch it provides. Here’s what I found out from www.nutrition-and-you.com

  • Parsley contains many health benefiting essential volatile oils that include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene.
  • The essential oil, Eugenol, present in this herb has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local anesthetic and anti-septic agent for teeth and gum diseases.
  • Parsley has been rated as one of the plant source with highest anti-oxidant activities.
  • The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
  • It is rich in many antioxidant vitamins including vitamin-A, beta-carotene, vitamin-C, vitamin-E, zea-xanthin, lutein, and cryptoxanthins. The herb is also an excellent source of folates.
  • Fresh herb leaves are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1).
  • It is probably the richest of the entire herb source for vitamin K; provides 1640 mcg or 1366% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin K has been found to have potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It has also established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

Here’s the point – take pleasure in your parsley, people. It will provide you peak performance potential!