Wild thing – Dandelion pesto

What is THE simple, quick, unexpensive soulfood? – Yes, a bowl of pasta with pesto and your inner balance is restored, your energy stores are refilled! Just stick to the golden rule: always have a glass of pesto in your fridge and a package of pasta in stock….then everything will be alright!

Throughout the years I’ve tried various kinds of pesto, both from the supermarket and homemade ones, cause, although I always come back to the classic pesto Genovese, at times I need some alternation. I really enjoy the different taste of red pesto with dried tomatoes; in my homeproduction I also followed the trends of rocket and ramp pesto – actually, until I couldn’t see it anymore…

So, time to try some new version,… and when would be a better time to prepare a sauce based on fresh herbs than at this time of the year?! Also, lately I’ve found a lot of inspiration about cooking with forgotten wild herbs. ( I know that I am following a recent culinary trend again!)

Especially Andreas innovative series “Where the wild things are” left me with the wish to experiment myself with wild greens like stinging nettle, wild watercress, dandelion, sorrel, borage and friends. The garden section in the latest issue of the sisterMAG (only German version available at the moment) offers a lot of information and inspiration for your own herb garden.

I also fullfilled myself a longtime wish when I bought the NOMA cookbook, or let’s better say: lookbook! I think it is the most impressive (not only in weight) cookbook I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if I ever will cook one recipe of it, but that’s not the idea of the book, anyway, I guess. It is just a great source of inspiration with its unconventional, often regional scandinavian ingredients (very important ingredients are hay ash and malt oil, but also spruce shots, sweet cicely, green strawberries, moss), its extraordinary recipes (“Hare, wood and beech nuts”, “Blueberries surrounded by their natural environment”), the stunning photographs, the food styling that makes the plate look like a mixture of nature itself and an abstract painting… Ok, I think I should stop here. As you can see I can highly recommend this book of the award winning chef Rene Redzepi.

So back from this high cuisine to my simple “wild” pesto,  made of dandelion greens. And if I say “wild”, I mean it. You can of course buy dandelion greens with roots on the farmers market, but hey: why buy it, when the meadow is just full of wild dandelions?! Of course you should choose carefully the place where you pick your greens – right next to the highway f.ex. probably isn’t the best idea – and of course wash them thoroughly. But if you pick only the dandelion greens (preferably the young and small ones) and process them on the same day, you won’t have to deal with cutting off  roots and getting rid of the dirt.

For this pesto I classically combined the greens with olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic as well as grounded nuts. To balance the bitter taste of dandelion greens (similar f.ex. to radicchio) – which I in principal love, as you may remember – I decided to go here for sweet almonds. Everything else is easy, just … *whirl* …. let your blender do the rest of the job.

Now boil a handful of whole wheat pasta, toss them in freshly made pesto, sit back … and enjoy!

Of course, you can also spice up your vegetable soup with this pesto, spread your pizza or sandwich with it, …..

Dandelion pesto (2 jars at 210 ml)

100g fresh dandelion greens, 150-200 ml olive oil, 50 g grounded almonds, 70 g grounded parmesan cheese, 1 clove garlic, 2 teaspoons salt

Blend olive oil and dandelion greens with food processor or hand blender by adding the greens step by step while blending. Add all other ingredients and blend until everything is a smooth paste. Add a bit more olive oil if you find your pesto too thick.

Fill into sterilized jars. Clean edges and cover pesto with olive oil to keep it airtight. If you always keep your layer of olive oil on top of the pesto, it can be stored in the fridge for a few month.

Need some more pesto inspiration? These versions sound equally yummy:

kale and pumpkin seed pesto from my darling lemon thyme
garlic scape and sorrel pesto from local milk
swiss chard pesto from bev cooks
radish green pesto with hazelnuts from delicious days
sorrel pesto
from kokblog

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