The joy of eating is in the known and unknown ways in which food inspires the taste buds and the spirit. So much of the food we eat today is bland, sweet, or salty, with little actual flavor. Herbs are used as accents rather than centerpieces. Yet herbs and spices often deliver the most distinct flavor profiles and can bring great diversity to a meal, whether they are used to enliven a dish or are featured on their own as a condiment or palate cleanser. This role is powerful, one that stimulates the senses, and it can transform our very relationship with food. The more different flavors we eat at a meal, the less likely we are to crave things later on. Break up your bland staple foods with something bitter and pungent like this oregano pesto, and you may find your afternoon cookie fix on the fritz. Let the flavors help you find the balance that your spirit craves.
Serving suggestion: Oregano pesto has a strong, pungent flavor that is a great complement to heavier foods. I like it with grilled meats and veggies, mixed into grain dishes, and alongside meat and cheese plates.
Toast the pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds separately in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often so they do not burn, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. The pumpkin seeds will pop and puff up when they are ready.
Combine the toasted seeds, oregano, garlic, oil, salt, and a healthy grinding of pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. The pesto will keep for 5 to 7 days in the fridge or for 6 months or more in the freezer.
Brittany Wood Nickerson is a practicing herbalist, health educator and cook. She combines knowledge of nutrition and a passion for using food as medicine with her training in Western, Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicine. Her treatment and teaching approach emphasize personal empowerment, preventative home healthcare and whole body wellness. Brittany is the owner and primary instructor of Thyme Herbal in Western Massachusetts where she teaches a three year Herbal Apprenticeship Program, as well as courses in herbal cooking and homesteading. She teaches women’s health at the University of Massachusetts and is the organizer of the Northampton/Amherst Herbal Meet-up group.