Winter Fresh: Mizuna Pecan Pesto

After all the excesses of Thanksgiving past and before the Christmas indulgences begins, you might want to give this lovely pesto a shot.  It can be tossed into a pasta, or over vegetables, used as a dip with crudités or a salad dressing base, slathered on crostinis or sandwiches...  Actually, you can do pretty much anything with it! 


Mizuna is a great Asian winter green to grow, cold hardy down to about 15 degrees. You can sow it like lettuce and then harvest as a cut & come again crop.  If you can't grow it right now, then it's often available at Asian markets, or sometimes as a bagged salad.  If you absolutely cannot find it, then you can use watercress, but the flavor will be quite a bit stronger.

This nice thing about these greens is that they are gently spicy with a delicate flavor that tends not to overwhelm other ingredients as a more in-your-face traditional basil pesto might.


I added some fresh grated horseradish & ground black pepper to complement the pepperiness of the greens, and pecans because they have that inherent sweetness that I think works well with the flavor profile of the Mizuna.  I also incorporated a squeeze of fresh lemon for the brightness.

Other than that, it's pretty much the standard pesto ingredients: Parmesan cheese, garlic, good olive oil and sea salt.

  Yum pecans and parmesan - a nice flavor combo

Yum pecans and parmesan - a nice flavor combo

  Garlic is imperative here, but if you want a little less intense of a pesto, add only two cloves

Garlic is imperative here, but if you want a little less intense of a pesto, add only two cloves

This recipe will fill a one pint jar.  It can be refrigerated for a few days, if it lasts that long!

Ingredients & Recipe

1 large bunch Mizuna leaves, about 4-6 oz, stems and all

1 cup pecans (I prefer to start with pecan halves)

1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon freshly grated/microplaned horseradish root, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or too taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Juice of half a lemon

1-2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Rinse and dry the Mizuna leaves then roughly cut into a few sections.  Leave on the stems as they are also good to eat!  

Combine about two thirds of the greens with the pecans, parmesan, garlic, black pepper and horseradish in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Then whirl everything together, pulsing as needed, until all the ingredients are fairly finely puréed. 

Next, to the food processor, add the rest of the greens and the squeeze of lemon then process the mixture as you slooowly add the olive oil through the hole in the top, creating a slight emulsion.

Add enough olive oil so your pesto is creamy and smooth, just enough to bind the sauce.  For some applications, you might want the pesto a bit thinner, so add a bit more oil.  If you want a thicker sauce, so it's more spreadable, add a bit less oil.  Either way, the oil is there to create a nice smooth integrated sauce, not a slick, so go slowly.

Taste and add salt to your preference, then one final spin in the food processor to bring everything together. And that's it!


  Here is a pretty good all-around consistancy for the pesto