Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fantastic Dandelion Pesto

Over the years of living on the wild side of the Vattudalen lake, I have learned to utilize wild herbs for many different uses, mostly for home made remedies and cures for both, the dogs and us, from different teas to tinctures, salves, etc. But many of these amazing plants have sparked my interest more and more in my kitchen.

We basically use nettles the entire summer instead of spinach, which doesn´t do well in our vegetable garden and I try to avoid the one from the shops due to the heavy pesticide used when growing it.
Dandelion leaves often substitute rucola in salads and on sandwiches and I also add chickweed for its super delicious taste and health benefits. 

Those of you who read my blog regularly know I´ve previously posted about our use of various dandelion parts in our dogs´ feeding program, but I realized that I actually haven´t blogged much about wild herbs in the use of my own kitchen.

So I decided to start off with this fantastic tasting, super easy recipe for dandelion pesto.
What fascinates me about this recipe are all the great features at once:
  • It is seriously delicious and fresh
  • It is super healthy
  • It is very easy and quick to make
  • It costs almost nothing

Basically, if you find yourself in the middle of summer with just a package of pasta, leftover nuts, some oil, some salt and pepper, you´ll find the rest outside in the garden or on the meadow and voila, you have an awesome dinner!

So, here are the ingredients I used, before I show you the easy step by step making process on a few pictures below:

2 cups (or 1/2 liter) of dandelion leaves, the smaller and younger, the better
I use only the top halfs or top 2/3 of the leaf, cutting off the bitter part, which I don´t throw away, but give my dogs as a supplement
2 cups (1/2l) nettle leaves 
1/2 cup cashew nuts (you can also use peanuts or walnuts if you don´t have cashews)
1/4 cup unrefined virgin olive oil 
(any oil will do, olive is the healthiest and tastes the best in this recipe)
1/4 cup parmezan cheese (or similar kind)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp curry powder
sprinkle of water
fresh ground pepper - as much as you like
salt - as much as you like

And here is how to do it:

After picking dandelion and nettle leaves, shake and blow in them to get insects that might be still there, away.
Wash dandelions in water and cut off the bottom parts of the leaves.

Put in a blender or food processor and add cashews, garlic, curry, salt, pepper, oil and cheese.

Put nettle leaves in a ceramic or porcelain bowl or a pot and pour over with boiling water.
Take out within a few minutes, rinsing the water off.

Add nettles and a bit of water to the rest of ingredients in the blender and process it into a smooth puree.

This is how the final result looks like :)

Serve with pasta. I personally use whole grain spagetti and add a bit of grated cheese on top of each portion.

This amount serves 4 portions.

Buon Apetit!

Here are a few health benefits of dandelions:

The young dandelions have a bit bitter flavor, which, when combined with the other herbs and spices, creates a unique, almost exotic taste. The bitter taste stimulates digestion and provides an effective way for coping with food sensitivities, plus helps to increase nutrient absorption. 

Dandelions are also mildly diuretic, helping to get rid of access water and waste (toxins) from the body.

Both dandelions and nettles are rich in vitamin C, nettles also in iron. 

This is a great antioxidant rich meal, which energizes, cleans and detoxifies your body.

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