Pastures of Pesto

For pesto with a kick, forget the basil -- use beet greens, dandelion greens, or other similar edibles instead. (Recipes and on-line extras from

Pesto Alfresco

4 cups mixed bitter greens
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1 or 2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt and pepper, if needed*

*When using bitter greens to make pesto, salt and pepper often can be omitted; the sugar is the substitute. Use cautiously, to taste.


If you have a hand-operated food processor aboard (among several brands, the Norpro hand-operated mini food processor is available through or, combine first six ingredients and process, adding oil as they mix until the pesto has a semiliquid consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper (see note above).

If you don’t have a processor, you can use a mortar and pestle. Chop first four ingredients finely, then place in the mortar, working in the cheese, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper with the pestle and processing by hand until you achieve the desired consistency. Serve over hot pasta with an extra helping of grated Parmesan or as a spread on bread or sandwiches.



For caramel:

2 tablespoons sugar and a few drops of water

2 teaspoons candied citrus fruit peel**
2 cups milk
4 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar


First, make the caramel by mixing the sugar with as much water as is necessary to turn it into a paste. Use the smallest pan available. Boil rapidly until the sugar turns brown and starts to burn. If it just crystallizes in the bottom then the pan is too large — use a smaller one and make a larger amount of caramel. Pour about a teaspoonful directly into each of four ramekins (individual ovenproof dishes). Add 1/2 teaspoon of candied peel to the caramel in each ramekin.

Beat together the milk, eggs, and sugar and pour into the ramekins. Bake in a medium hot oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven as soon as the flans have swelled up and look like they’re about to burst. Let cool, and to serve, loosen the edges with a knife and tip upside-down onto plates. Flan can also be made in a larger pan or other ovenproof dish, turned out on a large plate, and cut like a cake. Serves 4.

**To make candied fruit peel, save the rinds from citrus fruit. Cut off as much of the pith as possible and chop rinds into small pieces. Boil in water for three minutes and drain — this gets the bitterness out. Place back in pan and add an amount of sugar equal to the amount of peels you have, then add enough water to almost cover. Boil for 30 minutes. The peels are ready when soft. Once cooled, they will last a long time.


Curried Pumpkin Soup

2 1/2 pounds pumpkin
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, shopped
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
4 chilies (or to taste), finely chopped
2 teaspoons each cumin and coriander seed, ground
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 teaspoons Thai fish sauce OR 4 anchovies, chopped
1 can coconut milk

Boil or steam the pumpkin until soft. Let cool. Cut the hard skin off and mash the rest. In a large saucepan, sauté onions in oil until soft. Add garlic, ginger, chili, spices, and fish sauce. (All these condiments could be replaced by your favorite curry powder, but we prefer to use whole spices as they keep their flavor better when stowed on board). If the mixture gets to dry, add some water. Sautés for a few minutes and then add the pumpkin and coconut milk. Adjust the seasoning while bringing to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with popadoms (Indian bread) or fresh chunks of bread.