Chef Porsche Combash, an instructor for our Holistic Chef Online Culinary Program, is back at it with yet another recipe, perfect for Spring.
Learn more about the inspiration and recipe for Chef Porsche’s Neighborhood-Foraged Spring Pesto below.
Foraged Food is Free, Fresh, and Local
I love going on spring walks to look for edible “weeds” in my neighborhood. Examples of these foraged plants include watercress, rocket, wood sorrel, sow thistle, chickweed, and dandelions. The beauty of foraging for food is that it is free, fresh, and local and adds wonderful variety to your plate.
The two foraged plants that I collected for this pesto were nasturtiums which grow everywhere near me and stinging nettles from my yard. Nasturtiums have small, tender leaves and peppery flowers.
Stinging nettles have very fine glass needles which act like stingers, so avoid touching them with bare hands when collecting them. The stingers are made from silica, which is good for our hair and nails, but they must be neutralized by cooking prior to eating.
I liked mixing the two I chose because the earthy flavor of the stinging nettles pairs well with the peppery flavors in the nasturtiums. A bonus local ingredient that I included in the recipe was a Meyer lemon, given to me by neighbor from her tree.
Know the Plants You are Gathering
Whenever collecting plants to eat, know the plants you are gathering and understand where they are grown. Also, be 100% sure of what you are picking, so you don’t inadvertently poison yourself. I avoid any foraging from unknown areas or places that have been sprayed.
This pesto can be added to pizza, served with fish, swirled into soup, used as a dip for spring vegetables like asparagus, or serve as the base of a salad dressing.
Join me and get inspired to make this springtime treat!
Check out the recipe below and learn more about Chef Porsche by visiting our faculty page.
Neighborhood-Foraged Spring Pesto
- 4 cups mixed nettles and fresh nasturtiums including flowers, or greens of your choice
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
- the juice of two lemons, to taste
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly black pepper, to taste
Preparing the Greens:
- Collect only herbs you can identify. To gather the tender new growth of nettles, use scissors or clippers, and cut them directly into a basket or bowl. DO NOT TOUCH with bare hands. Gather nasturtiums, both the small, tender leaves and their flowers, checking carefully for snails that hide under the leaves.
- While wearing latex (doubled) or thick rubber gloves, remove leaves from the stems. (You can use the stems for tea). Carefully rinse nettles and set them aside.
- In a large saucepan, boil a quart of water, and add half the nettle leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook until all leaves have wilted and turned dark green, about 2 minutes. Remove cooked nettle and repeat with remaining leaves.
- Strain nettle leaves, collect and save the boiling water (which can also be used for tea), and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Chop finely. Set aside.
- Check the nasturtium for small bugs or slugs, then rinse and chop the nasturtiums including their flowers.
Preparing the Pesto:
- With an immersion blender or food processor, coarsely chop walnuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
- Add cooked nettles, chopped nasturtiums, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until well blended. With the processor running, pour in oil to make a paste.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks in well-sealed jar.
- This recipe can be adapted in several ways.
- Choose your favorite herbs (basil, cilantro, arugula, spinach, etc.) and nuts or seeds (pine nut, hazelnut, walnut, almond, pecan, pepita, etc.).
- You can also swap the lemon juice for vinegar, and swap the Parmesan for another salty component like nutritional yeast, miso, or anchovies.
- Add fresh chilies or chili flakes or spice!
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