Monday, May 08, 2017

Wild Dandelion Greens Pesto

Dandelion season is upon us!

One of our favourite wild plants, dandelion is readily available (growing nearly everywhere) and generally not at risk of being overharvested.  It's a great wild plant to start with if you are new to foraging for wild edibles, as all parts of it are edible (root, leaf and flower), it's highly nutritious, versatile and delicious.  The common dandelion is easy to identify.  Just make sure not to harvest in sprayed areas or near roadways so that the plants you pick are not toxic.

We love the dandelion flower blossoms in salads, baked goods (they make great additions to cookies and muffins), and dandelion drinks such as dandelion-lemonade, or dandelion blossom shrub (a mixed drink made with the blossoms first infused in organic raw apple cider vinegar).  Use only the yellow parts of the blossom, and cut away the green stems as these will impart bitter flavours (also stay away from the milky white sap in the stem - it has been traditionally used for curing warts, but is not desireable for eating).

Dandelion roots make a wonderful hot beverage.  Mix them with raw cacao nibs, cinnamon, vanilla, and your choice of milk, and you have yourself a delicious warming dandelion mocha chai.  Roots are best dug when they are young in the spring, but once the flower buds start to form leave the roots in the ground.  Roots are then also harvested in the fall, after the flowers die back.

Dandelion greens are amazing additions to smoothies, egg dishes, soups, salads (the young leaves are not quite so bitter), steamed greens, infused as medicinal tea, and - our absolute favourite for the greens - wild pesto.  We make pestos of all sorts, eating our "medicine" is always a nice way to go so that medicinal healing herbs and foods become commonplace in our kitchens and everyday table.  Any wild edible green will do for pesto (for example, we love including chickweed, dandelion greens, nettle tops, purslane, wild garlic, wood sorrel).  As well, culinary herbs such as garden sorrel, basils, mints, fennel, oregano, parsley, chives, garlic greens and scapes, and other leafy greens such as spinach or kale.  Feel free to substitute according to your taste and what is seasonally available, using this basic recipe below:

Wild Greens Dandelion Pesto

2 cups sunflower seeds or hemp seeds (or nuts if you prefer)
1/4 cup olive oil (or more to taste)
2 tsp sea salt
1 large handful dandelion greens, freshly picked (or other wild green edibles)
1 large handful sorrel leaves, freshly picked (or add 1 Tbsp lemon juice in it's place)
fresh oregano, chives and parsley - a few sprigs each
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
water as needed (to get the consistency you like for your pesto)

1) Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend well.
2) Add more olive oil or water to get a smooth consistency.
3) Add more salt, to taste.
4) Serve with wholegrain or glutenfree crackers, mixed into grain dishes, blended into pasta, as a dip for fresh veggies, or in a grilled cheese sandwich.  Pesto is so versatile!

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