dandelion pesto

the slightly bitter flavor of dandelion is wonderful added to salads & soups or steamed with chard and eggs.  for this  recipe we created a norcal pesto that not only tastes terrific, but with the added nutrition of garlic and olive oil, is the farm version of a multi-vitamin!  our recipe utilizes an italian dandelion (actually not a true dandelion but a radicchio) often found in csa boxes, farmers markets or even your local co-op.  enjoy your pesto on toasted bread, poached eggs, pasta or check out how we used it with our newest lentil creation.

1 packed cup dandelion - chopped1/4 cup pecorino romano - grated1/2 cup walnuts 1/4 tsp sea salt1-2 cloves garlic - minced1/2 cup good olive oil1 Tbl fresh lemon juiceBegin by toasting the walnuts: place walnuts in a dry saute pan and heat under a medium flame.  since it is easy to go from almost toasty to burnt, i recommend keeping distractions at bay!  after a minute or so, shake the pans, tossing the walnuts.  continue to heat until the walnuts brown a bit on each side 2-3 minutes.  remove from the pan as soon as the nuts are toasted, leaving them in the pan (even w/ the heat off) will result in further toasting or burning.  set aside to cool.

Roughly chop dandelion, discarding the fat part of the stem.  remove the outer thick skin from the cloves of garlic and mince. 

To a blender or food processor add the walnuts and salt.  blend until walnuts are in small pieces.  add cheese and green garlic and blend a bit more.  add dandelion greens.  at this point, i use the end of a spoon to work the dandelion in a bit w/ the rest of the items before going back to blending.  add olive oil and lemon juice and blend on a low speed for 10-30 seconds.  the longer the blend, the more creamy the pesto.  a rustic effect is achieved by either mincing all the ingredients and mixing by hand or blending till just incorporated.

Transfer to a pint mason jar.  if you don’t eat this all up at once, store in the refrigerator.  as with most of our recipes, feel free to substitute ingredients with what you have on hand.  experiment with different nuts, seeds & cheeses or go cheese free for a lighter vegan version.  buen provecho!