I have to admit I've never really given dandelion a chance. I tried it once as greens in a salad and the bitterness put me off a bit. I ended up getting stuck with the leaves again last week when I was attempting to make a dandelion mocha, which turns out, doesn't actually use the greens, but the root of the plant. I'm still trying to figure out a place to find fresh dandelion root to share that experience with you all. So in the meantime, what to do with excess weeds taking over my refrigerator? In true Italian style I improvised on a pesto and I'm actually pretty surprised at the outcome.
Replacing the basil with dandelion made sense because every pesto needs its potent, green color and flavor. I kept the parmesan, of course, and the lemon, a handful of garlic, and instead of using all pine nuts I used some pumpkin seeds that have been sitting in my pantry for ages. Tis the time of year I suppose to infuse pumpkin in our lives so this is my best effort. Dandelion roots and greens are very rich in minerals and have been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat all kinds of ailments, especially in the liver. I love how the supplemental ingredients in this pesto help offset the bitterness of the greens so when you enjoy the pesto, it just feels like a more potent version, especially if you put tons of garlic.
One thing to note, dandelion has been used to help aid digestion so I would be mindful here because I felt a little sensitive to that and it moved through pretty quickly. Basil is much gentler on the stomach but dandelion gives so many added health benefits. Always be mindful before you consume something you've never tried before.
- 2 cups packed dandelion greens (I found mine at Wholefoods, be careful picking them outside because you don't know if pesticides or chemicals were sprayed near or on them)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1 cup of either pine nuts or pumpkin seeds (extra flavor points if you toast them beforehand!)
- 1 lemon squeezed
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup olive oil
Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, into food processor. Begin to pulse, adding in the olive oil slowly. I like to slowly add the olive oil in as I process so the consistency is right. Blend together until smooth. I found the dandelion took a little longer to chop up so just be patient.
That's it! This poor little weed might finally be getting the respect it deserves!