February 2012 Feature Recipes

Recipes from “Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine.”

Nettle-Hazelnut Pesto - Greg Higgins, Higgins, Portland

This Pacific Northwest variation of pesto swaps stinging nettles for basil and hazelnuts for pine nuts. Folded into pasta, this spring-green sauce appears familiar but smells and tastes markedly more wild and earthy than the traditional version. If you can’t find hazelnuts, substitute pine nuts or walnuts. 


2          cups nettle leaves, lightly blanched

2          cups Italian parsley leaves

2          cups crumbled feta cheese

2          cups hazelnuts, toasted

¼         cup minced garlic

1          cup extra-virgin olive oil

*          salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Rough chop the nettle and parsley leaves. Combine in a mixing bowl with feta cheese, hazelnuts, garlic and oil. In batches, pulse ingredients in a food processor or crush with a mortar and pestle until thick and saucy. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Serve on pasta or as a sauce and dip. The pesto freezes well. Makes 6 cups

Razor Clam Risotto - Cathy Whims, Nostrana, Portland

This is a light and flavorful risotto made with Arborio rice, then simmered with puréed razor clams, finely chopped onion, speck (air-dried and brined pork), a hint of red chiles, white wine, Cognac and extra-virgin olive oil. It’s finished with fresh strips of razor clam, parsley, lemon and butter. The flavors sing of earth and ocean.


1          pound razor clams

5          cups fish stock or water

¼         cup onion, finely chopped

3          tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½         teaspoon garlic

2          ounces speck, thickly sliced and diced,
            or prosciutto or pancetta

2          cups Arborio, Canaiolo or Vialone Nano rice

1/3       cup white wine

2          tablespoons Cognac or brandy

*          salt and pepper, to taste

*          chopped fresh red chili pepper, to taste

3          tablespoons chopped parsley

1          tablespoon lemon juice

2          tablespoons (¼ stick) butter  


Cut off the tough food end of the clams. Process these “feet” to a fine paste in a food processor, and set aside. Cut the razor clam bodies into ½-inch-wide strips. Bring fish stock or water to a boil, then turn down heat to simmer. Put onion and olive oil in a small-but-deep pot or turn heat to medium high. Stir and sauté until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and speck, stir for just a few seconds. Add rice and stir quickly for a minute until all grains coat with oil. Add wine and puréed razor clams, and cook, stirring constantly, until wine evaporates. Stir in the Cognac or brandy. Add fish stock or water ladleful by ladleful, stirring constantly and only adding the next ladleful when the stock has completely evaporated. The constant stirring, deep pot and medium-high heat break down the outer starch of the rice with both heat and friction, resulting in a creamy risotto. Makes 6 servings.

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