Amber is a gardener, forager, and brewer of booze and medicines who has been working with herbs for 15+ years. Living out in Candler, she enjoys spending time in the wilds of her...
I spent some time walking around my yard this weekend, barefoot and grinning. I'm so happy to see the return of the flowers and haze of green leaves covering the mountains around my happy little holler in Candler!
My home is surrounded by a garden that I don't have to tend - wild plots of dandelions, nettles, henbit, chickweed, violets, bittercress, garlic mustard and other edible greens are popping up everywhere. It's just a matter of knowing what they are, harvesting them, and using them! That seems easy, but once I've had a salad or twelve, I start to get bored. What else can one do with all of these greens?!
If you aren't familiar with how to harvest wild greens, don’t just start eating everything you see! Avoid gathering greens from areas that are likely to have been sprayed with herbicides. Grab a friend who knows what they are looking at, or take a master gardener with you if you are uncertain. Check out these resources that are specific to foraging in Asheville and Western North Carolina:
Wild Greens Pesto
If you are using nettles in your wild pesto, don’t forget to blanch them for a minute or two before proceeding with the recipe to remove the sting!
Rough chop the greens and oregano and add them to your food processor (or mortar and pestle if you are hardcore). Toss in the garlic cloves and seeds/nuts and blend. Add a splash of lemon juice or fermented lemon rind to brighten up the color and flavor alike.
Add the olive oil one tablespoon or so at a time until you have your preferred texture. Are you trying to make a pesto sauce? Add more oil. Want a paste for pizza? Add less oil!
Flavor to taste with salt, pepper, and the hard cheese.
Ta-da! That’s it.
I prefer to wait a day or so to use my pesto so the flavors can meld. You can also freeze any excess for use later on in the year!