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The recipe for spaghetti with wild spinach pesto is a modern reinterpretation of how to use one of the oldest wild herbs: it is very fast and it is a really nice discovery.

Tasty and fragrant like the most famous Genoese pesto, it is a light and tasty condiment and I added some yellow tomatoes, preserved in glass, to give a touch of acidity. But the wild spinach pesto is also a nice sauce to spread on croutons.

There are spontaneous plants that have given nourishment throughout history such as the “wild spinach” also called Buon Enrico (Chenopodium Bonus Henricus), a vegetable rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins: A, C and B9.

It is called Buon Enrico in honour of Henry IV, king of Navarre and then of France (1589-1610), protector of botanists and agriculture.

It blooms in summer from July to October in Europe and the more tender leaves can also be eaten raw in salads, while the harvest takes place throughout the winter months.

In past centuries this plant was considered precious and all parts were used, the seeds are edible and a flour used since the time of the Aztecs is obtained. While in Maremma it is traditionally used for the preparation of tortelli.

In our area, we are located in the ancient Samnite territory of Morcone between Campania and Molise, it is used together with other wild herbs in the marinade soup and to prepare various soups based on cereals and legumes.

We define it as a spontaneous transhumance (migration) vegetable, the seasonal movement of stock from the summer pastures of the mountains of Abruzzo, Campania and Molise to the winter pastures of the Tavoliere delle Puglie.

In these mountain pastures, wild spinach was found and cooked because it grows from 500 to 2500 meters above sea level and was found along the entire path of the sheep tracks, the paths declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The sheep tracks have been used by shepherds and their cattle for millennia and when I imagine those grassy expanses covered with sheep and mules loaded with household goods it is as if I were taking a trip back in time.

A way to understand the true essence of these magical places.

Recipe of Spaghetti with wild spinach pesto and buffalo ricotta

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • Spaghetti made with old grains 320 gr
  • 100 g of baby spinach
  • pecorino cheese
  • grated cheese 50 gr
  • buffalo ricotta 50 gr
  • pine nuts 50 gr
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • cherry tomatoes in natural glass 120 gr
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste.
  • fresh oregano to taste – alternatively, fresh parsley will also work.

First of all we prepare a garlic oil by putting the clove of garlic deprived of the centre in a glass together with the extra virgin olive oil and put it in the microwave oven at maximum power (mine reaches 1000 watts) for 1 minute. The oil will not become very hot but will aromatize naturally and in a short time. Let the flavoured oil cool completely and remove the garlic clove.

At this point, put a pot of water on the stove and, once it comes to a boil, cook the spinach for 20 seconds. Then we cool them with water and ice to keep the colour ‘alive’.

Once cooled and squeezed, put the spinach in the bowl of the mixer along with the pine nuts and grated cheese. We salt and pepper to taste and finally pour the flavoured oil. Then we whisk the mixture until all the ingredients are combined and our creamy and tasty pesto is obtained.

Cuociamo quindi la pasta di grani antichi per il tempo indicato sulla confezione. Intanto in una padella stemperiamo la ricotta, qualche pomodorino ed il nostro pesto, con mezzo mestolo di acqua di cottura, a questo punto versiamo gli spaghetti al dente e amalgamiamo.

Il pesto di spinacino selvatico si può definite un pesto invernale e ho voluto fare una dedica a questa pianta selvatica con una ricetta veloce per non dimenticare la sua storia e la biodiversità.

Dovremo imparare a prenderci cura delle nostre biodiversità, della molteplicità di specie e organismi che con le loro relazioni creano il meraviglioso equilibrio e il miracolo della vita sulla Terra.

We then cook the ancient grain pasta for the time indicated on the package. Meanwhile, in a pan, dissolve the ricotta, a few tomatoes and our pesto, with half a ladle of cooking water, at this point pour the spaghetti al dente and mix.

The wild spinach pesto can be defined as a winter pesto and I wanted to make a dedication to this wild plant with a quick recipe so as not to forget its history and biodiversity.

We will have to learn to take care of our biodiversity, of the multiplicity of species and organisms that with their relationships create the wonderful balance and the miracle of life on Earth.

Because after all, the Earth is our home!

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