Radicchio & Basil Mash (bitters pesto)

What is Mash? Mash is an affectionate name for a type of mashed dish of seasoned, bitter greens introduced to me by my dear tribe, the Medeski Martin & Wood crew and family, up in Woodstock, NY. It is a strong side dish, served as a condiment like chutney or pickled ginger would be served, to compliment the plate and clean the palate. Mash is incredibly nutritious and an excellent digestive aid. Besides being fantastically talented and successful musicians, they are foodies and brilliant gardeners, including their manager, Liz Penta.  

Bitter greens are certainly intense, and so, so good for you. For many, bitters are an acquired taste (some may never acquire). But believe me, your liver will thank you as bitters are rejuventative tonic to tonify and support this mighty organ that filters the brunt of indulgent consumption. This dish is a way to get the good bitters in, so all is well.

The basic technique is to chop the bitter greens finely and marinate in a good olive oil, a bit of lemon juice, garlic and salt until they soften up. Then, using a Suribachi (a grooved, Japanese mortar and pestle), the dish is mashed with a sprinkle of a delicious fatty nuts, such as pine nuts or walnuts. Fresh herbs of choice may be added as desired. It takes a while to get a good mash going, and always most fun to take turns with friends in a festive setting. Thank you (MMW tribe) for all of the love, music, good wine, great food and savory-sweet memories. You nourish me deeply.

Yields: about 1 cup- serving size: 2-3 tablespoons


1 nice head radicchio, finely chopped (about 2-1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped oregano (optional)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
� teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons pine nuts


Chop the radicchio finely.
Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pine nuts. Let stand to marinate, tossing occasionally, until soft (15 minutes to 1 hour).
Mash in a Suribachi (grooved Japanese mortar and pestle) to a pesto texture. A smooth mortar and pestle will work, but takes much more patience and time.


Serve with anything as a side condiment. For bitter-lovers, it is great on steamed vegetables.


Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Tagged:   gluten-free plant-based recipes