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Homegrown: Dandelion Pesto

Homegrown: Dandelion Pesto
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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.”


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Updated Monday, April 20th, 2009

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4 Responses to Homegrown: Dandelion Pesto

  1. didi emmons May 5, 2009 at 5:09 am #

    Don’t know if you are reading these comments Annie, but this recipe is a fab idea! I will try it, and possibly put it in a cookbook I am writing now about my friend Eva Sommaripa, since many of the recipes are about weeds and foraging. Hope you are well.
    Didi Emmons

  2. didi emmons May 5, 2009 at 5:10 am #

    PS – will ask you before I put it in and of course give you and author of recipe credit

  3. Kimberly Chaires May 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    I can’t wait to try this!!

  4. Nancy Errico May 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    Here’s recipe my family has enjoyed for years from my Sicilian grandmother.

    Dandelion and Anchovy Salad

    Mash a small glove of garlic with mortar and pestle – drain oil of a can of anchovies over your bowl of dandelion. Add anchovies to garlic and mash – add red wine vinegar and mix thoroughly. According to your taste add more oil to the dandelions (extra virgin of course). Pour red wine vinegar mixture into dandelions and oil and toss!

    If you love anchovies and dandelions this is the salad for you!

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