Greens Pistou

Under pressure to include greens in the daily intake and a little jaded with salads (not that I have anything against them), I had to come up with a way of throwing greens into the diet of even the fussiest eater.  This Provençal inspiration has a way of vanishing from my fridge,  so it hits the right taste notes!

Moreover, health gurus profess the inclusion of seeds and nuts in the diet. Nuts with their nuttiness move the taste needle in the right direction.  To take the needle even further: savory umami of  Parmigiano Reggianao and sweetness of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).  The latter provides both the preserving medium as well as its incredible deliciousness.

Milder than an Indian  chutney,  and not as rich as a pesto, you can over-indulge without consequences. Easy, healthy, versatile  and a refrigerator-life of a week: what more can I ask for!

Special tools:

Pestle & mortar or Mexican molcajete


  • T1: 1/3 cup sunflower seeds + 1 pod garlic + 1 dried chile de arbol
  • 5 0z arugula
  • dash of apple cider vinegar  or lime juice (for brightness)
  • 1/8 cup freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggianao
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • salt to taste


Toast T1 ingredients on a skillet or in a toaster oven till lightly aromatic. If the aroma is strong, it may be too late: keep an eye on this as the seeds burn in the blink of an eye.  Peel the roasted garlic.

Coarsely pound the toasted ingredients with the rest, except EVOO.  Add EVOO little at a time while gently pounding.

[Indeed there is no shame in using the  food processor, if pestle-mortar is not your thing.  Just be careful not to turn this into a paste. First pulse the toasted ingredients. Next add all the ingredients except EVOO and pulse gradually adding the EVOO through the feed tube.]

Use in tea sandwiches, on toasts, as dips or  to dress rice/pasta.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. Sunflower seeds can be replaced with pumpkin seeds or nuts of your liking.
  2. The greens have a way of turning black, if not handled carefully.  Add the acid (vinegar or lime juice) as you begin to pound/pulse the greens.
    Another way is a quick and easy (modern) blanch: cover the greens with a paper towel and microwave for 20-25 secs. No need to shock in cold water.
  3. Any greens can be used instead of arugula: I have used baby spinach, cilantro leaves, baby chard, baby kale, even sugar snap peas- all with excellent results.
  4. Once I dressed rice with this and  I overheard one of my fussy eaters say “Who knew brown rice could taste this good”.
  5. Refrigerated, it can last for a week.

Another time a stupendous, finger-licking pesto using CSA Westchester (Community Supported Agriculture) lemon-balm that looks like a mint but smells like a lemon!

3/4 cup lemon balm leaves + 2 garlic scapes, minced + 1/2 cup pistachio + 1 dried red chilli + about 1/6 lb garlic cheddar cheese + salt to taste + juice of 1/2 lemon + 1/4 cup EVOO (or enough to process).

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