Penne with Sorrel Hazelnut Pesto Cream Sauce

IMAG0141_1I love sorrel, and so few people seem to have any idea what it is, which is tragic, so I’m posting another recipe using it. The first thing to make is the pesto.

Pesto is a basic combination of a leafy green, an oil-rich nut, garlic, and oil. Traditionally this has most often been seen as basil/pine nuts/garlic/olive oil/parmesan, but you can use nearly any green from arugula to celery leaves to garlic scapes, and nearly any nut. 

For this pesto you’re going to take the acidic lemony sorrel and balance it with sweet, slightly bitter, hazelnuts. (Hazelnuts are a real bear to find right now, so if you can’t, I think almonds would sub admirably.) The original recipe I used (found here at the Seattle Examiner – Sorrel Pesto Recipe ) called for olive oil. All I had on hand was extra virgin, and I found it overpowered the more delicate flavors of the sorrel and nuts, so next time I make it ( and there will be many next times…) I’ll be looking for a more neutral oil. Other than that, you can’t find an easier thing to make than pesto, if you have a food processor. If you don’t, you’re going to need a mortar and pestle and a lot of commitment.


Sorrel Pesto – makes about 1/2 cup

  • 2 TBSP Roasted Hazelnuts
  • 1 cup, packed Sorrel, leaves and stems, washed and dried
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2-3 TBS oil
  • Salt to taste
  • A few grinds of pepper

If you’re using a food processor you’ll need to increase the recipe. I quadrupled it for mine, giving me two cups of pesto. This is not a problem because it freezes beautifully. If you’re using the mortar, start mashing. 🙂

Combine the nuts, sorrel, and garlic in the bowl of the processor and pulse until you have a nice even consistency. Drizzle in the oil, pulse to combine, and taste for seasoning. Add whatever you feel it needs. This recipe doesn’t include parmesan, but if you just can’t without the cheese, go ahead and throw in a tablespoon, but do it before you add the salt.

Now you have pesto. What to do with it? Good on sandwiches, on pizza, on pasta. I’m thinking it would be really nice mixed with a little mayonnaise for fish, but I haven’t tried it yet. What I did with it last night for dinner was…


Penne with Sorrel Pesto Cream Sauce

If you froze pesto in 1/2 cup quantities ahead of time then this is about the easiest dinner you can imagine.

  • 12 oz uncooked penne pasta
  • water for the pasta
  • 1/2 cup Sorrel Pesto
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, salt the water and bring it to a boil. Cook the penne until done to your liking. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, gently warm the cream and combine it with the pesto.

Toss the hot, drained, penne with the sauce. Correct your seasonings. Top with a dusting of grated Parmesan. Sit down and eat your dinner in less than 15 minutes. You’re going to want a crusty bread to mop up any sauce that might think it’s going to stay on your plate. Salads are good too, and arugula goes well with the lemony notes of the sorrel. Enjoy!