Dandelions are abundant in the spring, and a little bit in the fall around this neck of the woods, no matter a lawn, garden, or roadside ditch. They are thought of a weed to rid oneself of post haste, but we let them grow without hesitation at this farm for a number of reasons, like dandelion pesto.

Did you know dandelions are some of the first flowers that bees head for in spring? Don’t mow them down! We need our bees!

Other fun facts about dandelions:

  • those little white dandelion parachutes – the seeds – can travel up to five miles before landing
  • every part of the dandelion is edible
  • dandelions are actually flowers, and not weeds
  • they help fertilize grass, rather than choke it out as weeds do
  • dandelions are highly nutritious and packed with vitamins & minerals
  • they make a nice bitey pesto for pasta and sandwiches

Speaking of pesto, you can make a tasty pesto out of just about any leafy green, and dandelion leaves are no exception. But they aren’t a typical cultivated home garden crop like herbs that can be used for other luscious pestos. Unlike sage pesto, kale pesto, or carrot top pesto, dandelions offer a very brief window for foraging. So gather those greens and leave the flowers to the bees – or steal a few to make jelly.

One final but important thing to consider: Only use dandelion leaves from areas that are not sprayed with any pesticides or herbicides – or any sort of toxic residue from lawn mowers, vehicles that are sitting on them, dog waste, etc.

Be very selective with your leaves and where you are harvesting them.

Dandelion Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c pine nuts, or nut of your choice
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c dandelion leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 c parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  • Place everything except the Parmesan cheese into a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. If you find the pesto to be too thick, add a bit more olive oil until desired consistency is reached.
  • Add the Parmesan and continue to blend until the mixture is as smooth as you like your pesto.
  • If not serving immediately, or have leftovers, transfer to a small container and drizzle olive oil over the flattened top of the pesto. This will help prevent browning. Cover with lid.
  • Refrigerate for up to 3 days for best flavor.