Growing up, I remember hearing stories about my grandparents eating dandelions in the early 30’s (because of the Great Depression) for sustenance. As a child, the idea of eating weeds both mystified me and made me feel a sense of pride for the struggle my relatives endured. I was so displaced from taking part of that struggle, seemingly by way of years and truthfully by way of circumstance.
There’s little mystery surrounding most greens for me because I love them and eat them ofter. However, dandelions have never been anything I’ve been overly eager to try. So, Izzy and I went “foraging” for the greens last weekend, and it took all of 50 steps to reach a “patch” of young, leafy stems, sans yellow flowers. It was a little disappointing because we were both ready to explore and hunt, in search of some big secret. Instead, we walked in the backyard and found the weeds I was looking for. So, maybe the word foraging is a bit overkill. In any case, I found plenty, and I knew exactly what I had in mind for their use: pesto. (WITHOUT pine nuts. After the pine mouth episode a couple months ago, I don’t know if I can ever eat pine nuts again. In the very least, I can’t eat them anytime soon.)
Dandelion leaves are usually bitter, so in this pesto, I used equal amount beet greens since they are a little sweeter and milder than other greens. Both are loaded with nutrients and are good for your body.
If you go out picking dandelion greens, make sure you a) pick the right plant, and b) pick bunches which haven’t been sprayed with chemicals. I wouldn’t advise picking them on the side of the road. Also (c), make sure you pick greens which haven’t flowered because they tend to be less bitter than “old” leaves. They wilt quickly, just FYI, so you’ll want to use them shortly after harvesting.
- 1 cup dandelion greens
- 1 cup beet greens
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- ⅓ cup walnuts
- ⅓ cup parmesan
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- Rough chop your dandelion and beet green together.
- Combine all ingredients, except police oil in a food processor. Pulse about 10 times, scraping down the sides of the food processor bowl with a spatula every few pulses, until everything is minced together and about the same size.
- Turning the processor on low, slowly drizzle olive oil in until everything is well combined and the pesto is the consistency you like.
- Serve as you would any other pesto.