If you have dandelions growing in your garden, you’ll love this dandelion pesto that is a healthy twist of a popular classic.
I have had so many requests for a recipe of my dandelion pesto, so here it is!
You might already enjoy its popular cousin, the traditional basil pesto. While pesto just refers to crushing ingredients in a mortar and pestle, there are now so many different variations of it.
You can use many herbs but the dandelion pesto is a favorite in our home. We love the combination of the bitterness of the dandelion leaves contrasted by the saltiness of the parmesan, the pungent kick of the garlic, and the gentle sweetness of the pine nuts.
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Benefits of dandelion leaves
I have another post where I talk about how and why to use dandelions. Feel free to check that out. It might change your perspective on this humble plant and elevate it from weed to medicinal herb status. That is why we consume it often here, especially in the spring when the leaves are tender. We love to add a few leaves to any green salad or make the salat entirely out of dandelion leaves.
If you have dandelions growing in your garden, you can pick the leaves from there. If you’d like to eradicate them, pull them out by the roots. You can also often find dandelions elsewhere, just make sure they grow away from busy streets and haven’t been sprayed. In some areas, you can find dandelion leaves in grocery stores or at farmers’ markets.
Ingredients for dandelion pesto
I use the traditional ingredients:
1-2 handfuls of dandelion leaves
1/2 – 1 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of grated parmesan
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 handful of roasted pine nuts
A word about exact amounts
I will give you a recipe with measurements. Just know that this recipe is very flexible and I encourage you to taste it and tweak it as you go.
Your dandelion leaves might be bigger or smaller than what I use. They might me younger and less bitter or older and more bitter. Feel free to adjust to your palate. If the bitter taste is new to you, you can always mix dandelion leaves with basil leaves and slowly increase the ratio.
We actually love the bitter taste which can be a bit acquired but I encourage you to give it a try!
The same goes for the olive oil. Some people like their pesto a bit more runny while others like it firm. It really depends on your preference and how you’re going to use it.
And garlic! I find that the size of a garlic clove really varies. Since this recipe uses raw garlic, you can adjust the amount to your liking.
Salt is an important ingredient in this recipe but the parmesan also has salt in it, so again, play with the amounts.
How to make it
Some people love making their pestos in a mortar and pestle and that would be a fun way to make it.
First, I cut the dandelion leaves in thirds (manageable size for the mini blender) and roughly chop the garlic. I’ll blend those until coarsely chopped.
Next, I add the pine nuts and give it a good blend. I’ll toss in the salt and then the olive oil and blend until well combined.
Lastly, I’ll add the roasted pine nuts and blend until combined. We like our pesto a bit on the chunkier side but you can always blend a bit more if you like.
At this point, I’ll taste my dandelion pesto and see add a bit more of this or that.
How to serve dandelion pesto
Dandelion pesto, just as any pesto, goes well with pasta – whether homemade or store-bought. We like to add it to roasted vegetables, as a topping for crackers, or a dip for raw veggies. We may also have family member who have been caught eating this dandelion pesto straight from the jar with a spoon. Yes, it is that good!
- 1 -2 handfuls dandelion leaves (preferably young)
- ½ – 1 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 handful pine nuts (we like them roasted)
- Cut the dandelion leaves into thirds. Cut the garlic into smaller pieces. Add these to a blender and mix until coarsely chopped.
- Add parmesan and salt to the blender. Blend until combined.
- Add ½ cup of olive oil and blend until combined. If desired, add the some or all of the remaining ½ cup of olive oil and blend again.
- Add the pine nuts until just combined. You can also blend it to a smoother consistency.
- Taste and adjust to your liking by adding more salt, parmesan, pine nuts, and/or olive oil
- Serve immediately over pasta, roasted vegetables, as a dip for raw veggies or with crackers. If you'd like to reserve it for later, place in a container or mason jar, cover with a bit of olive oil and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.