As I mentioned on yesterday’s post, one of the biggest Greek Orthodox Easter traditions is the making and consumption of mageiritsa, a meaty, herby soup, on Easter Eve. Although I’m not fussy at all when it comes to food and will probably eat anything put in front of me, I have never tasted this dish.
It’s preparation alone is just too much: all the intestines of the lamb or goat (including offal, heart and liver) have to be washed thoroughly and rinsed with vinegar, before being cooked into a thick, hearty soup, along with onions, dill and other leafy greens. It’s smelly and bland looking, yet there are people who adore it. I am most certainly not one of them. Nor is my sister, so every year, on that particular night, we’d savour our own traditional dish: pesto pasta.
Our choice of dish intensely infuriated our parents, who mocked us relentlessly over it, but it really was far from a random choice. See, after only a few days of fasting, what we both craved enthusiastically was cheese. All the cheese we could get. Cheese on pasta? Hell, even better- pile it on! And the sauce for that perfect in its simplicity dish? Well, we most definitely had to take advantage of the half a dozen basil plants in our front yard, as well the heaps of spinach in our garden. And so it came to be, our glorious basil/spinach pesto- absolutely inappropriate for Easter, but perfectly seasonal and kinda smart, wouldn’t you say?
This is so endlessly open to different variations: you can incorporate any kind of seasonal greens you have on hand and mix in different nuts- I used pecans, because I love their slightly caramel flavour, which is however surprisingly subtle here. Also, a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a touch of garlic for some punch, a lot of grated parmesan (really, a lot; really, that is the whole point we’re doing this, remember?) and freshly ground black pepper. There, a 6- ingredient Easter miracle. Don’t judge us, it’s all good.
5 cups fresh baby spinach, gently packed
1 cup fresh basil, gently packed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 teaspoons garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the greens, nuts, parmesan and garlic in a food processor and pulse until a thick paste forms; while pulsing, slowly pour in the olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper, taste and add extra parmesan or some salt if needed.