Dandelion Pesto

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

For visitors to the department of Keep An Open Mind, dandelions offer tremendous flavor.  Harvest them from places where no pesticides have been used (so beware of the lawn, as healthy as those specimens might look).  Dandelions in the vegetable garden?  Perfect.  The best flavor comes from fresh, young leaves in the spring.

Fun fact:  Those cheerful yellow "weeds" have been consumed as food, and for medicinal use, for thousands of years.  The ancestors of the nemesis on your lawn were actually brought to the US on purpose.  Crazy, you say?  Check out the history of taraxacum officianale.

2-3 cups fresh young dandelion leaves, washed and dried
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Use a food processor with the cutting blade.  Place leaves in the processing chamber, and top with the nuts, Parmesan, and salt.  Put on the lid.  Turn on the processor, and add the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture achieves a thick, smooth consistency.  Scrape down the sides and pulse again.  Scrape into a dish and enjoy pungent spring flavor.

Tip:  try with pasta.

Variations:  Try pine nuts instead of walnuts.

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