chard pesto for buckwheat penne

I wanted to do something simple on the Saturday evening of our first weekend retreat here, as there were more fancy protein-packed meals planned for lunches. For the lovely and gluten-free Savitri buckwheat penne looked good. I was thinking something fresh to complement the umami taste of buckwheat, but also a creamy texture for full comfort food feeling. Maybe raw leaves, and on a visit to the Harvest Workers Co-op in nearby Okehampton I could not resist the chard. So fresh and full of prana! Chard pesto.

When I first came to the area, I had a warm welcome at the shop (formerly Hilltown Organics, run by Sara and Martin) and a feeling of finding my tribe. What’s more, Martin showed me around the market garden and I marvelled at not only a no dig approach, but a no weed one too! The goodness in the produce, however, speaks for the integrity and care gone into production. And Sara, Sophie and Liv from the Co-op all come to Yoga classes!

The Harvest Workers Co-op are currently (May 2017) crowdfunding: go to the Crowdfunder page. Among the many wonderful rewards is a retreat at either the early August Beginners and Cooking Workshop Retreat, the August Bank Holiday Yoga Gardening retreat or the September harvest and Navaratri Nidra Retreat. Retreats at Viveka Gardens

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 400g chard or other prana-filled leaves – the mixed leaf selection from Harvest Workers Coop could be even better
  • 100g sunflower seeds other seeds or nuts could be very nice, pumpkin, cashew, for instance
  • 3 -4 tbsp olive oil makes a nice emulsification with the leaves and seeds
  • 100g tofu drained
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 400g buckwheat penne


  1. cut out the mid-rib from the chard and save to chop and add to a soup; wash the leaves, loosely shred them and place in a large bowl
  2. add the penne to a big pan of salted boiling water
  3. half way through cooking (5 minutes) take c 200ml of the pasta cooking water and splash over the leaves so they are very slightly wilted
  4. add the seeds to the leaves with oil and tofu
  5. blitz with a hand blender, season
  6. serve with engevita yeast flakes sprinkled on top ok, it’s a way of thinking parmesan