Homegrown: Dandelion Pesto
We curse dandelions. We tug them out and they return in what seems like minutes. Ah yes, the invasive and pervasive pox on our carefully manicured lawns–the dandelion. I say, befriend this persistent perennial (especially the first young shoots), and if you don’t treat your lawns with harmful chemicals (and I really hope you don’t), cook ‘em up.
For hundreds, if not thousands, of years, dandelion greens have been known for their medicinal properties, consumed for everything from certain liver problems to eczema and various kidney disorders. They’re rich in vitamins A, B, C, and D, plus a wide variety of minerals and other beneficial nutrients.
I first experimented with a traditional tea, but I didn’t care for the bitter flavor or the tannic mouth feel. Dandelion wine was fun, but the yeast and the brewing and the bottling was all too much work–and the dandelions were piling up. Instead, these greens need just a few savory friends to coax out their earthy loveliness.
The answer is pesto: the traditional Italian basil-based paste. Most pestos get stirred into cooked pasta, but this version is also very versatile. It’s terrific topping a smear of goat cheese on crackers, or spread on sandwiches, or as a layer for pizza with fresh mozzarella.
So mix up a big batch of our dandelion pesto–it’s easy. Freeze the extra in small jars or an ice-cube tray, and come winter, you’ll long for a front yard dotted with those tenacious “weeds.”