A nutritional profile from the USDA lists these two greens, along with dandelion leaves, as the three healthiest ‘weeds’ available to us. Besides the nutrition, another bonus is that they are quite palatable; foods I would gladly choose to eat.
(Plus they are free and they get us out into nature, which is nutrition for our soul. But that isn’t the point of this post.)
In addition to eating them raw along the trail or tossing them into a salad or omelette, one of my favorite ways to prepare them is as a pesto. To show what can be done with foraging foods in our environment, I will use as many wild edibles as I can in this recipe. You may, however, use any substitute desired. This is a very forgiving recipe.
What you need:
- A handful of raw, freshly picked wild greens
- A finger full of fresh picked Monarda leaves (a local native in the mint family that tastes like a very spicy oregano)
- Pinon nuts or acorns, both local and native, available seasonally. Or use any nut/seed you like. Sunflower seeds work great.
- A few wild onions, also found in wetter areas of the ponderosa forest or a few cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
What you do:
Place some of each into a food processor. Amounts are totally up to you. Add a bit of olive oil and turn it on for a few seconds. If too dry, add oil. If too oily, add more of whatever food ingredient you like. I absolutely love the aroma and flavor of fresh Monarda, so my pesto usually has a kick to it. Season yours anyway that works for you.
This is best eaten right away, something that is easy to do. All together, this takes a few minutes to make. The benefits for various diets are: high in vitamins and minerals, raw, gluten free, vegetarian and delicious! And, children love it, especially if they were involved in the collecting. Use as a spread on crackers or celery.
Making this dish is one of the highlight of our wild foods classes and something I look forward to every time I hear the thunder rumbling off the Peaks.