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Paardenbloem Pesto

pesto image v2

Good evening everyone, and welcome to the latest installment of “If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Eat ‘em”. Today we’re using handy, dandy and ever-so-abundant dandelions to our own advantage. I mean really, what lazy gardener would dare let these pesky weeds creep into her flower borders? *slowly raises hand* Guilty as charged. Try as I may, each and every spring these bright yellow rascals pop out from the must unexpected places to enjoy a few moments under the sun. But it’s not all bad news… I promise!

In some ways this weed can actually be a blessing for your garden. The dreaded deep taproot actually draws up valuable nutrients, drawing minerals and nitrogen to the surface of your soil. This peculiar plant is also edible in its entirety. That’s right. You can eat the flower, the leaves, and even the roots. It’s long been hailed for its medicinal properties and is often used as an herbal remedy. From caffeine-free coffee to dandelion wine… dandelions seem to belong better in the kitchen than the garden.

Today, however, we’re going to be using the vitamin and mineral rich leaves to make a delicious pesto with a kick. Much like an arugula pesto, the bitter leaves of the dandelion add a characteristically sharp flavor. So, come on everyone and let’s load up on some vitamin A, C, and K and chow down on this potassium, calcium, iron, and magnese rich dish!

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 young dandelion plants
  • 1 handful of pine nuts
  • 1 handful of parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 generous pinch of salt (to taste)
  • Olive oil

Make sure to pick your dandelions from a reliable location- somewhere you know hasn’t been sprayed by any chemicals… or animals. Bring the plants inside and remove the leaves from the thick root. Set a few flowers aside to use as garnish.

Place the leaves into a blender or food processor. While the leaves are blending, slowly add the olive oil. Continue adding the oil until the consistency looks about right (probably about 1/4-1/2 cup). Blend the leaves for about one minute to achieve a fine consistency.

Throw in the cloves of garlic, salt, pine nuts, and cheese and blend for another half minute. Using a spoon or spatula, make sure to regularly scrape down the sides.

Every cook is entitled to a taste test, so go ahead and enjoy a nibble. How is the flavor? Need any more cheese? Pine nuts? Salt? Use your own taste buds and judgement to create your finished product. Just to give you an idea, this is the amount of pesto I ended up with. It was more than enough to make a pasta dish for two and have lots of left-overs.

Boil your pasta, drain it, and add the pesto while the noodles are still warm (this will ensure an even coating). If you’re so inclined, you can add a sprinkling of roasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese on top… and if you really want to show off and impress your guests (or partner!) you can use some of your dandelion petals as garnish.

Yum, yum, yum. I’m a huge pesto fan, and I was surprisingly impressed with this dish. I’ll admit it, I was a bit intimidated by the idea of eating a common weed. After I successfully convinced my husband that I wasn’t trying to poison him and promised to keep a close eye out for any scary symptoms, we dug in and enjoyed. The left-overs, which I ate for lunch today, tasted just as delicious cold as they did fresh from the stove. Tonight, I’m cooking up a bit of pesto chicken with rice… so, here’s hoping we don’t get sick of pesto anytime soon!

If you’re not in the mood to have pesto for a few consecutive days, you can always choose to stick the extras in the freezer. This way you can enjoy “presto pesto”… tasty pasta in an instant :)

I hope you guys enjoyed today’s wild and weedy recipe. I hope you’ll be motivated to live life on the wild side and tempt your taste buds with some unlikely goodies from the garden!

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Never ever I thought about making pesto from dandelions, but it looks like a great idea. I will definitelly try.

    May 3, 2013
    • Emily #

      I hadn’t really thought of it either, Katerina… but there were so many pretty dandelions in bloom, I had a sudden urge to do something with them :P Let me know if you like it!

      May 3, 2013
  2. yvonne #

    Emily…
    I have been suffering from maladie de printemps … probably due to the rain and cold winds when every one else seems to have sunshine and flowers :-( I am going to try this will let you know how it goes xx

    May 3, 2013
    • Emily #

      Oh no, Yvonne!! I’m sending a big shipment of sunshine and blue skies your way… overnight delivery ;) My flowers are taking an extra long time waking up this year too, so don’t worry. You’ll probably be making us all jealous when autumn rolls around :) Looking forward to hearing how you like the pesto! xx

      May 4, 2013
  3. dirtgirl #

    I knew you could use dandelions in salads, but funnily enough I watched a cooking program last night where a greek lady cooked the dandelions like Spinach and I wondered what it would be like in a pesto.
    Our gardens and laneways are full of plump gorgeous looking dandelions which we usually pick for our chickens, but I’m sure they won’t mind me using some to try out some pesto!
    I always store my pesto in the fridge in a jar and ensure there is a layer of EVOO over the top. Mine never lasts long, I use it in so many dishes and as a spread on sandwiches and rolls.

    May 6, 2013
    • Emily #

      Yum! Mine didn’t last long either ;) After a couple days it was all gone, hehe… maybe time to make more? I hope you enjoy the pesto! I’ll have to try sauteeing them like spinach… I’m sure that’d be really tasty too! :) xx Emily

      May 6, 2013
  4. You’ve done it! You’ve actually made me wish for MORE dandelions! I didn’t know the flowers were edible too. Is that dandelion flower garnish on the final dish? So pretty and looks yummy. Thanks for sharing.

    May 6, 2013
    • Emily #

      Haha, Elizabeth. I don’t know if I’d wish more dandelions on anyone! But I don’t see why we can’t use the ones we have (annoyingly) hanging around :D
      That is, indeed, a bit of dandelion flower garnish on top of the final dish. While they’re quite nutritious, the flowers don’t have much of a taste at all… so it’s pretty much all for show. xx Emily

      May 6, 2013

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