Happy Spring! Time to get your hands dirty and clean up your yard for the new season. Does your grass look like this?
Most people probably think that’s just a lawn that needs to be weeded, and they may be right, but it could also be a vegetable patch. Those dandelions are edible, at least in theory. You probably don’t want to eat just any weeds, since you want to make sure they’ve been protected from weedkillers, car exhaust, and dog pee. Which for me means only eating dandelions I’ve grown in my back yard. Fortunately, they grow like weeds!
These weeds make an excellent pesto, which of course I had to try on avocado toast. It was so good I’d serve it at a party, and if anyone objects to eating dandelions, I’ll inform them that they’re the newest superfood. Which isn’t even a lie–they are full of nutrition and antioxidants.
Although served up on my homemade cheeseboard, without the weeds as garnish, I doubt anyone would guess dandelions were involved in this pesto.
We don’t actually care about our lawn and want to rip it out eventually, but we try to keep it reasonably tidy. Since we don’t use any weedkillers and mow only when necessary, last year the weeds got out of control. It didn’t help that the neighbors next door were even more nonchalant about lawn maintenance then we are. Since their yard was an endless source of weed seed, we gave up on fighting a losing battle. They had more weeds than grass (no judgement, just the truth!) until they hired some landscapers to cover it up with landscaping fabric and mulch.
So this year, we might have a chance. We figured that pulling up weeds now, before they flower, will mean a lot less to deal with later in the year. Steven and I have been going on long weeding rampages. So the above photo isn’t my yard, and I was actually worried that we wouldn’t have enough dandelions in our yard for this recipe.
Ha! There were still way more than enough. If I have to put this much work into maintaining a lawn, I’d better at least get a snack out of it in the end. Although I cooked up dandelion greens last year, I never blogged about it. But this article from Gardenista reminded me of the possibilities. So I decided to make a batch of dandelion pesto with my garden bounty. That post also has good tips on collecting and identifying dandelions, although they’re probably quite easy to spot for anyone who gardens. Early spring is the best time to harvest them, when they’re the most tender and least bitter.
Recipe adapted from here.
Make one cup.
6 ounces (175g) washed and cleaned young dandelion leaves
1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons (20g) pine nuts
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1.25 ounces (35g) Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
Place the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat. Lightly toast the nuts, stirring frequently, until they’re golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the nuts from the pan and allow to cool.
Put the dandelion greens in a food processor with the olive oil, and process until they’re all finely chopped up. Add the garlic cloves, pine nuts, salt, and cheese, and process until everything is a smooth puree. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. If it’s too thick, you can thin it with more olive oil or water.
You can use this dandelion pesto anywhere you would use regular pesto. Even without the avocado and feta, it makes an excellent spread on crusty bread. I want to try it with a soft cheese next time I have some in the house, and I’ll be adding it to some pasta (probably ravioli), for dinner later this week.