I’m an organic gardener…have been for over 20 years. And in my culinary garden, we never use chemicals.
So, when a plant recently popped up somewhere I didn’t want it to grow…a prodigious plant to boot…I wasn’t very happy.
I am, of course, referring to the tenacious Dandelion.
Dandelions are perennials that grow from a thick, unbranching tap root. We know them well because they produce bright yellow flowers that, after a few days, become fluffy white seed heads. Those lovely looking seed heads, the ones we used to blow into the air when we were kids, produce even more
weeds bright yellow flowers. Oh, the blissful ignorance of our youth!
As I stood looking at the lone Dandelion growing amongst a bed of beautiful Lavender, I started thinking about how it might be useful. Then I remembered…Dandelion leaves were for sale in an exclusive grocer in our local village.
A few minutes later, research on the internet provided a plethora of recipes. Clearly one plant wasn’t going to be enough but it was a start. I hopped on my bike, quickly cycled down to the village, bought more greens, and came home to make the recipe I found over at The Kitchn for Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto. David Lebovitz’s Dandelion Pesto recipe was equally interesting, but I wanted to use some leftover pumpkin seeds that were in my larder.
And that was that. On a fine summer evening, I served my family Whole Wheat Linguine Pasta topped with Dandelion Pesto. I didn’t tell them what they were eating until after they devoured their dinner…just in case the main ingredient put them off.
Fortunately, they loved it. What’s more, I enjoyed turning a would-be-weed into a wonderful meal. Hope you find ways to do the same.
Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Makes about 1 cup
130gm/3/4 cup unsalted hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
3 garlic gloves, minced
25gm/1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 2 cups, loosely packed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4oz/1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper, to tasted
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F.
2. Pour the pumpkin seeds onto a shallow-rimmed baking sheet and roast until just fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
3. Pulse the garlic and pumpkin seeds together in the bowl of a food processor until very finely chopped.
4. Add parmesan cheese, dandelion greens, and lemon juice and process continuously until combined. Stop the processor every now and again to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The pesto will be very thick and difficult to process after awhile — that’s ok.
5. With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until the pesto is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Additional Notes and Credits:
* For some Irish Dandelion folklore see this post for Wildflower Folklore at Wildflowers of Ireland.
* Here’s a Dandelion Flower Fritter recipe from Darina Allen, as well as a radio interview of Darina at NPR.
* I am intrigued by this Dandelion Honey Recipe that appeared in the Irish Examiner for Dandelion Honey…which is more like a marmalade!
* Here’s another interesting recipe to try…Dandelion Colcannon from The New York Times.
* The Daily Spud has gotten in on the act too…with recipes for Dandelion Tea and Dandelion Fritters.
* Canada’s National Post did a wonderful article on Irish cheeses and ended it with several recipes, including this one for Salad of Lambs Lettuce and Dandelion Greens by Nuala Cullen