Back when we were living off the land with nothing but the tall trees and howling wind for company, my parents used to joke that they were raising kids who could one day live anywhere and survive. Thankfully, we’ve lived relatively unadventurous lives since then, content with the comforts of modern amenities. I don’t even think I like camping, but I could, in theory, set a broken bone in the wilderness if need be.
My siblings and I got together last night and with our pile of memories, ended up reminiscing; my sister has this story she tells about those times when we literally had nothing to eat.
My dad would wander into the forest and return hours later with wild plants and seeds and whatnot, and whatever he got would be dinner that day. We were foraging long before it became trendy. The plants he was unsure of, he fed to the dogs first.
We’d mix herby leaves with the peppers, onions and tomatoes we grew, crush it into a paste and call it pesto, when we clearly had no idea what pesto was, but it sounded better than mystery sauce.
Parsley and cilantro are herbs I always have a surplus of; mostly from using them as garnish or in recipes that call for a sprinkle here and a pinch there. It’s just as easy to blend them into a quick sauce rather than let them wilt away in the fridge; that way there’s always a jar of pesto on hand, and even though the leaves weren’t foraged, there’s a little pleasure from wasting-not that makes me feel a tad self-sufficient.
I’ve developed a deep liking for this pesto; cilantro with its citrusy hints, mixed with the herby mild bitterness of parsley, creamy nutty pistachios and pungent spices make this a rich flavoured sauce.
Nutty earthy buckwheat pairs wonderfully with this pesto, I usually toss them along some peppers and onions to make an easy satisfying meal.
Of course, you can substitute your favourite grain or pseudo-grain for buckwheat, but I like the uniqueness of buckwheat in this dish, it’s heartier and has more bite, and quite nutritious too – My mom looked at the groats suspiciously one time and said they looked like something my dad might have foraged.
- 1 cup toasted pistachios
- 1 bunch parsley (discard thick stems)
- 1 bunch cilantro (discard thick stems)
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic (or 4 - 5 roasted garlic cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac, optional
- 1/2 - 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2/3 – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to cover pesto for storing
- 2 cups buckwheat groats (raw or toasted)
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups cold water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or less since there’s oil in the pesto already
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large poblano pepper (or jalapeno or bell pepper), chopped
- 2 – 3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Combine pistachios, parsley, cilantro and garlic in a food processor
- Add sumac, pepper flakes and sea salt, pulse for a few seconds to make a coarse paste
- Drizzle olive oil through the feed tube into pesto while food processor is running
- Process until well combined – you can make the pesto as coarse or as smooth as you want it
- Taste and check for salt and pepper, add more if desired
- Rinse buckwheat and combine with water and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and fluff with a fork
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat
- Add cumin and onion and cook for about a minute or so until fragrant and onions are tender
- Add pepper and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes
- Stir in 4 – 5 tablespoons of pesto (or as desired) and cook for about a minute
- Add buckwheat, toss to coat and cook for another minute
- Check and add salt if desired
- Serve topped with more pesto and freshly ground pepper