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Sorrel pesto recipe

Sorrel pesto recipe

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The first pesto of the year with tender young sorrel leaves from my garden. I use lemon-flavoured olive oil but you can use olive oil mixed with a bit of lemon zest and lemon juice instead.

2 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 1 small jar

  • 30g raw unpeeled almonds
  • 50g young sorrel leaves, stems removed
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon-flavoured olive oil, or as needed
  • salt and pepper to taste

MethodPrep:5min ›Ready in:5min

  1. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over medium-low heat until lightly golden and fragrant. Stir frequently, as they burn quickly. Remove and let cool.
  2. Pulse all ingredients in the food processor until finely chopped, do not overprocess, you don't want it to be a paste. Add more oil if mixture seems to dry, then pulse a few times. Transfer to a jar, cover with a little olive oil and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

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Sorrel Pesto

Sorrel is a lovely, lemony flavor. I remembered this lemon asparagus pasta sauce recipe that I used to make all the time. I thought the sorrel pesto would be interesting, with the addition of the cheeses that a traditional pesto has.

Because I feel sorrel is lighter than basil, I used a combination of pine nuts and walnuts as the nut addition. If you have extra sorrel around, try this for a simple, yet unique pasta dish.


  • 3 cups Packed Sorrel Leaves, Thouroughly Washed And Dried
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Roughly Chopped
  • ¼ cups Pine Nuts
  • ½ cups Walnuts
  • ¾ cups Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I Like Athena Brand)
  • ¾ cups Grated Parmesan Reggiano Cheese
  • ⅓ cups Grated Pecorino Romano (Locatelli) Cheese
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste


In a large food processor, combine sorrel leaves, garlic, pine nuts and walnuts. Process until almost a paste. Scrape bowl.

With machine on, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Scrape bowl again. Add the cheeses, a big pinch of salt and 12 grinds of fresh pepper. Process again, taste and add more salt, if necessary, to your liking.

Popular recipes include sorrel sauce with salmon and sorrel soup, both of which are French recipes. Used in mixed salads, it adds a very bright fresh note and in pesto it is lighter and milder than basil. Once cooked it loses much of it's bright flavor and can sometimes be a little on the bitter side.

One of the big perks of living on Canada's West Coast is our mild winters. We are well into November now and my spring sorrel is staging a comeback after the heat and dryness of the summer had decimated it. I thought I better use it now though, before we start getting heavy frost and finally got around to making sorrel pesto which had been on my mind last spring.

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How to Make It

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and let cool, or rinse with cold water and drain again. Drizzle with about 1 tbsp. oil to prevent clumping.

Meanwhile, whirl almonds and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add lemon zest, sorrel, 1/2 cup oil, and the salt, whirling until just blended but still coarse.

Mix room-temperature pasta in a large bowl with pesto and another 1 to 2 tbsp. oil if needed for a looser texture. Transfer to plates, grate cheese on top, and drizzle with oil.

Sorrel Pesto

The crickets are chirping with the sounds of fall and the days are getting shorter. August has been a runaway month for us. Three weekends got away with a wedding in NJ, our week in Vermont and then a Saturday in Baltimore to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 95 th birthday. Finally, we’ve been able to get back on track to normalcy to spend the weekend at our home upstate, visiting our friends up there. And then there’s my garden, which has been neglected for all this time. I was afraid I would miss all of my beautiful tomatoes, but thankfully most have waited for me! But my kale and sorrel have all gone wild!! So I had to do something with them. Kale salad last night and tonight (and hopefully our son who lives in Brooklyn will take some more), and the sorrel – so much! – so far, I made a sorrel pesto sauce!
I spent all of Labor Day in the kitchen and garden. Here’s how my garden looked when I arrived on Friday. Holy kale, right!?

And here’s all the sorrel I harvested. I used only 1/3 of this for the pesto.

I made a basil pesto and then I whipped up this sorrel pesto. After that I made a red sauce, which I simmered for 4 hours with short ribs, a fruit salad and I was going to make a sorrel sauce but my husband couldn’t find any plain unflavored Greek yogurt at any store that was open on this holiday, (the only one being Stewart’s). While cutting everything in the garden, I did a bit of weeding and tied up the tomatoes that were growing all over the place. And then in the kitchen, I did something super dumb. I was reaching deep into this bottom cabinet where we keep the plastic leftover containers, trying to find a matching lid for my sorrel pesto container. I lifted my head before fully backing out and banged and cut my nose on the bottom part of the counter overhang. Wow! How stupid!! Here I am dizzy and bleeding while Steve is at Stewart’s trying to wrestle up some Greek yogurt to no avail.

So I’m holding an ice pack to my eyes and nose while blood drips down all over my face. Not a pretty sight. Steve comes home, we clean up the wound and try to make a butterfly bandage to hopefully heal this thing without a scar. Seems too minor to stitch. Besides, who wants to go to the emergency room? What a mess! Jeesh – the hazards of cooking!

Meanwhile back to my sorrel pesto. Here it is. A very pretty green, (with no blood drops, mind you).

Sorrel is a lovely, lemony flavor. I remembered this lemon asparagus pasta sauce recipe that I used to make all the time. I thought the sorrel pesto would be interesting, with the addition of the cheeses that a traditional pesto has. Because I feel sorrel is lighter than basil, I used a combination of pine nuts and walnuts as the nut addition. I know it’s not often that you may have extra sorrel around your household, but if you do, this is really delicious for a simple yet unique pasta dish.

So give it a go!! But don’t cut your nose like I did!

Remember, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients for any dish you make, so use the very best you can, and always cook with LOVE.

SORREL PESTO – makes about 1.5 cups

3 cups of packed sorrel leaves, thoroughly washed and dried
4 – 5 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil (I like Athena brand)
¼ cup of pine nuts
1/2 cups walnuts
3/4 cups grated Parmesan (Reggiano) cheese
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano (Locatelli) cheese

In a large food processor, combine sorrel leaves, garlic, pine nuts and walnuts. Process to make a near paste. Scrape bowl. With machine on, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Scrape bowl again. Add the cheeses, a big pinch of salt and 12 grinds of fresh pepper. Process again, taste and add more salt, if necessary, to your liking.

A one cup portion is enough to coat 1 lb. of dried pasta, cooked. I like it on fusilli or gemelli best as it can get in all the little groves for maximum coverage and flavor. Excellent to put a dab on grilled chicken breasts, squash, potatoes or green beans. Adds a lovely cheesy, lemony flavor.


Servings Serves 6 to 8

Amount Per Serving Calories 558 Calories from Fat 61 % Daily Value * Total Fat 39g 60 % Saturated Fat 6.1g 31 % Cholesterol 7.5mg 3 % Sodium 580mg 25 % Total Carbohydrate 36g 12 % Dietary Fiber 9.8g 40 % Protein 20g 40 %

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Sorrel pesto recipe - Recipes

Jessica Kaslow’s Silver Lake restaurant, Sqirl, has a cult following thanks to a few different incredible dishes. Chief among them is this brown rice bowl, featured in Jessica’s new cookbook, Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking.

While this flavorful bowl is served at Sqirl during brunch, it makes a great everyday lunch too. To save time, you can prepare the rice and sorrel pesto a day or two in advance. And, as Jessica points out in the book, you can make substitutions to suit your diet or just what you have on hand in that moment. Instead of a poached egg, you could include another protein of your choice. Or, for more veggies, you could add some kale into the mix. Below, an excerpt from the book and Jessica’s full recipe to get you started. XXJKE

If I took this dish off the menu, I’m pretty sure we’d close. It has become the most iconic dish at Sqirl, even though you probably don’t think of sorrel and preserved lemons as obvious breakfast foods. This dish succeeding is like when the horse that no one bet on ends up winning the Kentucky Derby. At first nobody even knew it was in the race. Then, all of a sudden, the long shot is ahead by leaps and bounds, and even its trainer looks confused. —Jessica Kaslow in “Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking”

Sorrel Pesto

Sorrel Pesto

Sorrel is a beautiful plant that is incredibly easy to grow. There is the broad leaf variety pictured above and also a lovely red veined variety that is so pretty with the red throughout. It is a perennial green that produces early in spring and late into the fall. It is a lovely plant to grow in your garden and is a super healthy green that is popping up at more and more farmers market stands. It produces masses of edible green leaves filled with Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium. In the spring time, it adds a pop of colour and bright taste to an early green salad and later in the year it works well added to other greens in recipes or in making a sauce (it is kind of like the squeeze of lemon juice). The leaves have a tangy lemony taste that is a little sour and bitter. Some describe it as a sour apple candy taste. I love having it in my garden and have enjoyed finding interesting ways to use it.

This quick and easy pesto is made with sorrel, garlic, sunflower seeds, salt, and olive oil. This fresh light lemony tasting pesto adds a boost of flavour to roasted potatoes, gnocchi, pasta, soup, and sauces. It also makes a wonderful and healthy alternative to butter or mayo on avocado tomato toast or sandwiches.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Add sorrel, garlic and sunflower seeds to food processor and process until leaves and seeds are ground up. Add parmesan cheese, salt and olive oil. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding salt, olive oil as needed to desired consistency. This pesto will keep well refrigerated or can be frozen for later use.

What Is Sorrel And How Do I Cook With it?

Sorrel sounds romantic, like a secret mushroom, special tincture or magical word used to conjure fawns to appear by your side. However, sorrel is none of these things — it’s a simple perennial herb that sprouts eagerly from the ground each spring. While it looks like any old lettuce, its tang and brightness are positively bewitching, almost as if the leafy plant were made of lemon zest. Play with this ingredient, because not only does it add a nice layer of flavor to many dishes, it’s hard to mess up! A quick note before you begin: Common sorrel is not the same as Jamaican sorrel, which is a magenta-hued plant that falls into the same family as the hibiscus flower and will color your meal pink.

Where it’s from

Until recently, most American chefs didn’t utilize sorrel. Most of the recipes I found come from France, where the plant has been used for centuries medicinally, as well as in soups and stews. Before the French, evidence of sorrel consumption can be found in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, where the herb was used to add acidity to rich, heavy foods, much like we do today. In fact, the word “sorrel” comes from the Germanic word “sur” and the old French word “surele,” both meaning “sour.” This is exactly the profile the plant imparts and why it’s been used not only in the aforementioned countries, but all over the world, including in Romania, Nigeria, Hungry, Russia, India and Vietnam.

Over the years, sorrel has grown to encompass many similar green-leafed herbs including patience, spinach dock or narrow-leaf dock, sheep sorrel, wood sorrel, belleville sorrel and most common, French or garden sorrel. While these all hail from different families and genuses, they all maintain similar characteristics, namely the texture, color and a sharp, tangy essence due to naturally occurring oxalic acid.

Aside from adding flavor, the leaves are used to aid digestion, treat liver problems and cure throat and mouth ulcers. Because sorrel provides a hefty dose of fiber, vitamins A, C and B6, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium, it’s considered a health food. Most medicinal consumption of sorrel comes in tea form, which is a nice way to end a heavy meal if you’re looking for a nonalcoholic digestif.

When it’s in season

Sorrel is in season in late spring until mid-summer, usually May to June. And because it grows like a weed and thrives in all sorts of conditions, you can find the plant all over the country.

What To Look For

Right now is the time to start looking for the long, emerald-hued leaves of the common sorrel plant. They are sold in bunches like any other green and either have long leaves or smaller round ones. Wild wood sorrel also can be found in the late spring and early summer months. With three heart-shaped “folded” leafs, this variety looks a lot like clover, though it also has small yellow flowers and seed pods that look like tiny okra. You can also forage for sheep sorrel, which has arrow-shaped leaves more like the classic French variety found in the market. No matter where you go to find your sorrel, get crisp leaves with an even green hue.

How to store it

Prepare sorrel soon after buying or harvesting it. The leaves will last longer washed and pressed between damp paper towels in a plastic container in the fridge, but their one- to two-week shelf life is shorter than spinach, kale or romaine. You can also dry sorrel to use as an herb, but it will lose some flavor.

How to prepare it

First, try it raw. Next, work it into pasta dishes, wilt into soups, wrap your beef in it before grilling and daintily lace the next whole fish you serve. Sorrel really can be used in any capacity. “At its peak, sorrel has a bright, tangy acidity that adds a huge depth of flavor to a dish to make it pop,” says chef Ryan Taylor of the Colorado-based Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group. “I like to use sorrel in contrast to certain dishes with creamy cheeses like chèvre or a more oily fish like salmon to cut the fattiness and really brighten up a dish perfect for spring.” One way Taylor works with sorrel is by combining it with yogurt to make a rich topping for his citrus-cured salmon salad (yogurt recipe below).

At Cafe Aion in Boulder, Colorado, chef Dakota Soifer whips up a stunning pesto with fresh sorrel (recipe below), a sauce he thinks the herb was meant for. “I love the lemon and acid component that comes along with the unique herby-ness of sorrel,” says Soifer. “The fatty and slightly salty Marcona almonds balance the dish out really nicely.” Soifer also uses the pesto as a riff on the traditional French pistou and will add a last-minute dollop to his homemade soups. In general, you can think about using sorrel in anything that calls for a bit of acid or that would benefit from a dash of tangy citrus flavor. Throw some raw leaves into a mixed-green salad, cook it down and add as a side or take the advice from these chefs and turn it into a bright accoutrement to your main dish.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 1/2 cups (1 3/4 ounces) loosely packed sorrel leaves, stems trimmed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (from a 1-ounce piece)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 8 Flatbreads
  • 4 cups assorted edible weeds, such as chickweed, purslane, or lamb's-quarters

Process sorrel, Parmesan, pine nuts, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until coarsely ground. With machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is emulsified. (Pesto may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Spread 2 tablespoons pesto on each flatbread, and top with 1/2 cup edible weeds. Drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.