Dandelions are everywhere, just like honeysuckle every spring!
We keep a small patch of dandelions in our back yard for the bees each year (and if we’re being honest, you can never completely rid your yard of them anyway).
People spend a lot of money to maintain grass: by watering it, cutting it, and buying bottles of weed killer.
We let the rain water our grass, we mow and give the clippings to the chickens for foraging/entertainment, add some to the compost bin, and if there are weeds that are beneficial to the bees we leave some for them.
I learned as a young girl that dandelions are multi-purpose; the first being dandelion wine (thanks to the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name), salve/lip balm, and in recent years as food: dandelion jelly, which I made last year and cookies made from the yellow flower, and even pesto from the leaves. Every part of the dandelion is edible and research shows there are benefits to eating these weeds.
Most people may picture hippies foraging in the forest and spending countless hours making “free range organic” health food. I’m here to tell you this was a simple 20 minute project from start to finish. I didn’t have to leave my house, wear patchouli oil, or devote a day to making food from scratch. Wearing a tie dye shirt is optional.
Dandelions are easy to spot though they closely resemble catsear. If you want to make sure you’re picking dandelions, pull up the plant by the root and look for a milky white excretion from the stalk. Also, the leaves will be pointy ended and smooth, unlike catsear which will be fuzzy.
My daughter and I made the journey to the back yard (every outing is a journey with a three year old!) last week to gather two cups of dandelion leaves to make pesto, which was a quick process.
If you plan to pick some for yourself, please pick from an area that you are 100% sure hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals.
After we gathered our greens, we brought them inside and gave them a thorough wash.
I gave the batch a light rinse and then picked through looking for pieces of dirt/debris to remove. I gave it a good spray and sifted through again to double check.
Next, I collected my ingredients for pesto. It’s like making traditional pesto with basil, except you’re replacing the herb (basil) with a weed (dandelion green).
I placed about a third of my dandelion greens in my food processor with the olive oil and let it chop down for half a minute. I added the remainder of the greens until it was all finely chopped.
Next the garlic cloves, pine nuts, salt, and Parmesan cheese were added in with the greens and processed until smooth and creamy.
This batch made enough to fill two jelly jars. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week so I left one jar in the fridge and placed the other in the freezer for a later date.
- 2 cups dandelion greens, washed well
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 2oz pine nuts
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded
- After greens have been washed thoroughly, place a third in a food processor with the olive oil and process for around 30 seconds.
- Add remaining greens and process until finely chopped.
- Add garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, and Parmesan cheese and process until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer to jars. Refrigerate up to one week; freeze for up to 3 months.
This recipe can be used in place of traditional basil pesto. Enjoy on a warm crusty baguette, mixed with tomatoes, topped with spinach and artichokes, or as a pizza sauce base.
I used a pint size jar of marinara sauce we canned last summer mixed with a third of the dandelion pesto as my base sauce for this pizza. It’s topped with grilled chicken, Vidalia onion, olives, and kale. Spinach and artichokes would also be excellent toppings for this pizza!