Immersion 41, September 23rd, 2015 Spring Passion for Pestos

It is early October as I write this post – the temperature is rising as quickly as the light – both are dramatic to experience. I was skiing 10 days ago and today it is 20degC. Greens are growing visibly daily; the blossom on stone fruit seemed so transitory although watching the Rosa canina bushes, ‘ephemeral’ or driving out the old’ is a more applicable description. They still have old rosehips and new growth at the same time. The land is dry, I am in awe of the plants large and small, that survive to grow on this land. I am thinking that they are already resilient and will survive more dramatic climate shifts to come. What else could I grow on this part of the land I wonder?

In the flat hectare or so of land I have reconsidered what I can grow where. I was not aware that the rabbits would be soooo much of a problem. I double rabbit proof everything. I have learned though that they hate coffee grounds, egg shells and blood and bone fertiliser.

I am doing what I can BUT in spite of it all the garden is looking great. Outside, the garlic, shallots, cabbage tree kale, late endive, parsnips, beet greens and leeks, early small fennel bulbs, early chives, broad beans, pre-planted peas and white stone turnips are all doing well. I might even get some Asparagus this year. Inside, an abundance of coriander, dandelions, puha, beet greens, celery, some sprouting broccoli and even early radishes. My plan is to plant one lot of seeds a day.

I love Pesto-like spreads.

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These spreads are such a good way to add green nourishment to our food.
In Immersion 39 I gave a recipe for how to find and add winter wild and cultivated greens in an area where greens in winter are harder to find/grow.

My recent deliciously tasty spreads are;
• Coriander and roasted sesame pesto.
• Dandelion, Puha (Sonchus oleracea) and roasted Sunflower seeds.

To make Pesto spreads;
There are FIVE main ingredients

Olive or other cold pressed oil (Walnut or hazelnut make fine tasting pestos).

Apple cider vinegar or any plant infusion into that vinegar such as roots of Burdock or Dandelion, any leaf that takes your fancy such as French tarragon, Dandelion, Basil, Thyme in fact any herb that contains a volatile oil can be infused in the vinegar.

The fresh plants

The nuts/seeds usually roasted

Seasonings – Salt/Pepper/Garlic/Chilli/other herbs

How to make these nutritious, tasty spreads;
• Coriander and roasted sesame pesto

Firstly dry roast – To ½ to ¾ cup of sesame seeds, dry roast over a low heat until the first ones ‘pop’. Watch carefully, stir constantly, do not allow to brown.
Then add ½ cup of the oil and a 1/3rd cup vinegar. Process in a blender together with the fresh plants – a chopped cup is a good guide.

Process to a paste with added Salt and Pepper to taste.

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• Dandelion, Puha (Sonchus oleracea) and roasted Sunflower seeds.

Firstly dry roast – Dry roast ¾ cup of sunflower seeds, dry roast over a low heat until the they slightly brown, stir constantly.
Then add ½ cup of olive oil and a 1/3rd cup apple cider vinegar. Process in a blender together with the washed fresh plants – a chopped cup is a good guide. I use 50% of each.

Process to a paste with added Salt and Pepper to taste.

These are great to serve with crackers and cheese, breads or on pasta, even in wraps.

You can learn more about the plants that grow around you with out ‘Grassroots Herbal Medicine’ unit or the ‘Traditions, Art and Science of Herbal Medicine’ on-line. Have a look on http://www.HerbCollege.com for what is on offer. It is available to people outside of New Zealand also.

You can be an ‘ICOHM Subscriber’ for just USD25.00 per annum. This is a rich resource of Webinars, Articles and Plant profiles.

Next Post: Soloman’s Seal, and Spring update

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