Dandelion and Friends Pesto

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Ok everyone, to me this is the weirdest time of year.  The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and things are starting to grow in the garden, but there is nothing ready to harvest yet!  Just look at those tiny garlic sprouts!  Sure I have some herbs, but a few chives and a sprig of mint hardly feel like an actual harvest of anything.  

HOWEVER

Don't forget the humble dandelion and his friends known collectively as false dandelions!  In my area none of them are flowering yet so this is the perfect time to eat the leaves as they are not too bitter yet.  If you've never been out foraging dandelions are the perfect thing to start with since they have no poisonous lookalikes.  If it looks like a dandelion you're good to go!  When you get home with your bounty of beautiful green leaves soak them in a combo of water and vinegar just in case a wandering animal used them as a toilet.  After that rinse them with plain water and they'll be ready to eat!  If you're still leery you can sometimes find dandelion greens in the grocery store, but why pay for something you can get for free for almost no effort!

Ok so you have your dandelion greens.  Now what?

Use them like any other green in your kitchen!  Make a salad!  Wilt them in with your scrambled eggs!  Purée them in a green smoothie or a soup!  Since in my family we love condiments I made pesto.

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Isn't that a beautiful green?  In case you were wondering #nofilter.  In my recipe I guessed a bit on the amounts so scale them up or down a bit depending on how much of the greens you gathered.

HOW TO MAKE THIS

  1. Gather about 3-4 cups of dandelion greens.  Soak them in a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water for a few minutes and then rinse with plain water.  Put greens in a food processor.  If you don't have one (I don't) a stick blender works too.
  2. Toast 1/2 cup of nuts in a pan on medium heat just until you can start to smell them.  I used walnuts since that is what I had in my pantry but pine nuts are more traditional.
  3. Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil to your greens and start to purée.  Keep your oil on hand as you will need to add more as you go until you get the consistency that you like.  
  4. Add 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and your toasted nuts and purée the whole thing.  Add more oil if you need to.  If you like the consistency then you're done!  Use this anywhere you would normally use a pesto!