Sorrel pesto is a delicious way to use this tasty spring green. With traditional pesto flavors of nuts and parmesan and the fresh lemon flavor of sorrel, this is my favorite twist on the traditional pasta sauce.
There are many ways to use this lovely herb and if you google recipes you'll find many are from northern Europe where it is a very common ingredient. Often it is cooked but I personally prefer it raw so that it retains it's bright citrus flavor. Sorrel Pesto is the perfect way to enjoy it's fresh lemon like quality.
We love pesto and if you do too, you might also like to try my Vegan Basil Mint Pesto, Easy Vegan Parsley Pesto With Hazelnuts and my Almond Pesto. Add this or any pesto to top my Vegan Italian White Beans for an extra special treat.
Other sorrel recipes
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.
Growing your own sorrel
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.
Sorrel is fresh and very lemony in flavour, in fact my daughter calls it lemon leaf and loves to pick leaves to snack on while out in the garden.
It is an extremely easy and low maintenance herb to grow, some might call it a weed, but it is a lovely addition to a kitchen garden. It is hearty, one of the first plants to start growing in the spring and one of the last to keep producing in the fall. Sorrel is a fantastic vitamin and fiber powerhouse too.
Plant your sorrel in a spot it can stay and it will come back for you each year. This plant doesn't take up too much space, approximately one square foot. I used a lot of it this year in salads and sauces and so I decided to let mine go to seed this summer in hopes of having a few more plants next spring. (If you love growing herbs, check out my collection of Mint Recipes and Parsley Recipes.)
Step By Step Instructions
For my sorrel pesto, I decided to use local hazelnuts as the base. They are so delicious and fresh here right now. Hazelnuts are a relatively soft nut that can be crushed or ground into a nice paste consistency but you could certainly use another soft mild nut like cashews or pine nuts.
First, grind your nuts and garlic in a mortar and pestle or a food processor.
Next, add in the sorrel and continue to grind or process until you have an even, coarse paste.
Once the greens and nuts are as ground as you want them, add in your oil and process or stir to combine.
Then added a cup of grated Parmesan cheese to help bind it all together and give that melty, creamy consistency when spooned over hot pasta.
Finally, add the lemon zest and stir thoroughly if using. The bright zest highlights the lemon flavor even further for a truly spring taste.
Once all ingredients are added, taste and adjust salt and olive oil as desired for flavor and texture.
My family gave the thumbs up that this is a keeper and one big advantage over classic pesto with pine nuts and basil is that this is really economical to make. I hope you get a chance to try this and if you don't already have sorrel growing in your garden, I highly recommend planting it next spring.
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Cheers friends! Sabrina
Sorrel And Hazelnut Pesto
- ½ c Hazelnuts
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 clove Garlic
- 2 c Sorrel Leaves
- ½ c Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
- 1 c Parmesan, Grated 100 grams/3 oz
- In food processor (or with mortar and pestle if you feel like it and have the extra time) process the hazelnuts and salt until the nuts are very finely ground. Add the garlic and process again until it is uniform with the nuts.
- Add the sorrel, about ½ cup at a time until it is finely ground.
- Add the oil slowly, continuing to stir or process as you pour it in.
- Stir in the lemon zest and grated parmesan and season to taste with salt. Add extra oil in you want a looser sauce.
- Serve with hot pasta like fettuccine or pappardelle, on crostini or as a condiment on white beans, grilled fish or chicken.
This dish with sorrel pesto looks delicious. I have sorrel in my garden too and enjoy the bright lemony taste. What a great idea to use hazelnuts in the pesto. Thanks for adding all the step by step photos.
Thank you Laura! I love the flavour of sorrel raw as opposed to cooked so it retains its brightness. Enjoy 🙂
This pesto looks delicious! Now I have something else to make with sorrel other than just throwing into salads.
Yes, I’m sure you’ll love it with all the bright citrusy flavour of the sorrel! Thanks for reading 🙂
What a beautiful and fresh looking dish. I bet the flavour is absolutely fantastic. And that colour, wow!
Fresh sorrel has not only a bright color but a bright fresh flavour when used raw. I hope you give it a shot and thanks for reading along!
Nicoletta De Angelis Nardelli
I wasn't familiar with sorrel until a friend who is also a food blogger gave us some from her garden. I loved adding it to our salad! It has such a bright citrusy flavor. I'm sure we would love this pesto!
It’s such a lovely green us bet it?! If you like the flavour, you’ll love the pesto! Thanks for chiming in 🙂
This is a great post. I was actually wondering if I should add sorrel to my herb garden this year but I wasn't sure if it spreads or not. If I can find some, it's going in!
Sorrel is wonderful in the garden and will not take over. I plant mine by my rhubarb as it arrived around the same time each year. It will go to seed eventually but it is easy to control by picking the seed head off (like you would for parsley or rhubarb), it won’t spread through the root system. The lovely thing with this is once you plant it once, it’ll come back on it’s own.
I love using the herb garden for more than just seasonings, and this recipe looks wonderful. I especially love that you used hazelnuts. I've never used them in pesto before and since they are local for us I can't wait to try it!
Hazelnuts are such a delicious and versatile nut, really great in any pesto. Thanks for reading along Colleen!
Great tips on sorrel! I ought to find some seeds for next spring. Sorrel pesto sounds lovely!
Yes! Do worth it to have sorrel. A nice early spring green 🙂
Oooooh I absolutely love sorel and have planted some in my garden, so this recipe is a must! Thank you for sharing.
You’re welcome! I hope you love it, sorrel really is a delicious spring green 🙂
i love sorels but never have any in my garden! I should try it this summer! thanks for the recipe!
You’re welcome and thanks for chiming in!
I didn't even know sorrel was a thing, especially a thing that you could make pesto out of! It sounds delicious - I wonder if I could grow it in Calgary's short growing season?
Do you use roasted or unfrosted hazelnuts for this?
I meant roasted or raw
Hi Rima, both will work well but for a slightly smoother consistency, I use raw Hazelnuts 🙂
Great, thank you! Is peeled better? I'm very much looking to trying your recipe. I actually picked up sorrel for the first time from the farmers market and just cooked it with olive oil, butter, and shallots (and topped on salmon). Your pesto sounds great so it will be my next way to try sorrel
Peeled is marginally better but very time consuming so up to you. You’ll find the sorrel has a much brighter flavour used raw in the pest than cooked. I hope you get a chance to let me know how you like it after you try it 🙂
Definitely will do! I plan to try in a week or so after I get sorrel from the farmers market this weekend.how long does the pesto last once I make it?
3 days in fridge, a month or more in freezer.
Will do! It might be a week or so. How long will it last in the fridge?
3 days in fridge though the top may brown a little. If longer, this freezes very well.
I want to try sorrel pesto tonight! I have a healthy sorrel bush but I've only ever made soup from it. I imagine pine nuts or walnuts would work as well as hazelnuts in the pesto...
Hi Mark, yes both nuts work great in pesto. Pine nuts will be milder, walnuts add in their distinctive flavour. We enjoy the pesto raw, spooned over our bowl of hot pasta for the best bright flavour. (Cooking sorrel gives it a much earthier, more muted flavour). Let me know how it goes!