One of the most common ingredients that get wasted are salad leaves. The mixed bags of salad leaves really don’t stay fresh long, really they should be eaten within 3 days. So if you don’t get around to eating a salad, perhaps the weather changed and you were more in the mood for a hot meal, there are a few ways you can use them up in a different way. Whatever you do, don’t throw that bag of slightly sad looking leaves away! Salad leaves can be blended into a soup in place of spinach or watercress or make this very flexible salad bag pesto! If you have any fresh herbs around the place, chuck some of those in too.
Read more about food waste in my blog post on the subject here. Liz x
- mixed salad leaves (and odds an ends of fresh herbs if available)
- sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or any nuts or seeds you like)
- olive oil
- nutritional yeast (or odds and ends of cheese)
I’ve deliberated not given amounts as pesto is a very fluid recipe. You can taste and adjust it as you go. You should aim to have around half the volume of the mixture as nuts or seeds. So if you have about a mug full of salad leaves that need using, toast about half a mug of nuts or seeds.
Toast the nuts or seeds in a dry frying pan to bring out their flavour. Allow them to cool.
The put them in a food processor. I used a blender because my food processor is broken – it works ok but I prefer a food processor for pesto because I don’t want the mixture to be too smooth in the end.
Add a crushed or grated glove of garlic, a shake of nutritional yeast, a big pinch of salt and all the salad leaves.
Then add lemon juice (you can add the zest of the lemon too if you like, or save it in the freezer for something else). Start with a small amount of lemon juice, you can always add more later.
Add a very generous amount of olive oil. A quality extra virgin olive oil is best for pesto.
Pulse the mixture, scrape down the sides and pulse again until you reach a loose, rough paste. Add more olive oil as you go if needed.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt of lemon juice as you like. Then store in a clean jar in the fridge. To make it last longer, cover it with a thin layer of olive oil to protect it from the air. Use it up within a week.
Pesto is not just for pasta! Use it for a dip, stir it into hummus or mayo, spread it into wraps or sandwiches, toss it through roasted veg or steamed greens, dollop it on your grainy salads…