Last spring, I had the pleasure of meeting Marijke and Alex, the pair behind PlanFutur a company that is working on importing moringa from Benin to the Netherlands. Marijke and Alex held a taste-testing session for a few friends, and I developed a couple of recipes for them to showcase how easily this superfood can be included in our diet.
The leaves from the moringa tree are picked, dried, broken down into flakes and then crushed into powder. Moringa’s health benefits show that it is high in vitamins A and C, and minerals iron, calcium, and potassium. Moringa has been shown to detoxify the blood, help reduce high cholesterol, act as an anti-inflammatory, and is an anti-oxidant. Basically, moringa helps to keep blood cells clean, healthy and in tiptop shape!
In the pesto recipe I’m sharing, the moringa I used was in flakes which I soaked for a few hours in olive oil. After tasting it, I realized that the soaking wasn’t entirely necessary, because as the pesto continues to steep in olive oil, the moringa will soften. Moringa’s taste is reminiscent to green tea. It has a mild astringent flavour and finish on the tongue. Mixing it with a selection of fresh herbs and garlic means the overall taste is similar to a pesto you might already enjoy. The variety and ratio of herbs you choose for this sauce is very flexible. I used basil, parsley, and coriander. Quantities are roughly measured – a handful of this and that, will do the trick!
Ingredients for the Moringa and Mixed-herb Pesto
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 bunch of fresh basil
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves
- 2 Tbsp dry moringa leaves
- 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and roughy chopped
- ⅓-½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (walnuts or almonds work well, too)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash and dry your fresh herbs. Remove the leaves from their stems and place the leaves in a lettuce spinner to take as much of the water away as possible. You can also spread the leaves onto a clean tea towel and gently roll this up to allow the towel to absorb the water. When the leaves are dry, place them in the bowl of a food processor along with the moringa leaves, chopped garlic, and pine nuts. Pulse this mixture until the ingredients start to break down, about 5-6 pulses.
- From the top of the processor, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture forms a paste. I like a more liquidy pesto, so I err on the end of extra oil. No harm done here as the oil is usually helpful in the dishes to which I add the pesto.
- When the leaves have broken down to your liking, have a quick taste to see how much salt and pepper you’d like to add. If you want to increase the amount of nuts, go for it!
Helpful Tips: Enjoy this pesto in pasta or rice, or, drizzle it on roasted chicken, add a spoonful to your favourite soup, garnish your hummus, or serve it alongside your morning scramble. You can also try using it as a base for salad dressing and add the juice of a lemon to balance it out and make your salad sparkle! As you see, this condiment has many uses. It will keep in the fridge for a week or two, longer in the freezer.
I hope you like it!