Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dandelion Pesto & Sweet Potato Salad

People with yards might not like to hear this, but I kind of like dandelions. I think they're an invasive species here in the states - people say they were imported by European immigrants as an ornamental flower - but I can't help but root for them in their ongoing resistance against the perfect herbicide and pesticide-laced American lawn. Their bright yellow flowers are one of the first signs that spring is finally here, and if that wasn't enough, the leaves and flowers are edible - and pretty good, at that. I think the leaves taste a little like arugula - on the bitter side, but not as bitter as mustard or turnip greens.

Some stores sell dandelion greens, but they're one of the easiest wild plants to forage, since we all know what a dandelion looks like. I picked these in a little grove of trees nearby where I am sure nobody has ever sprayed for weeds - that's obviously a concern when picking wild plants, though I did think for a moment that I don't give much thought to what's been used on non-organic vegetables that I buy. I've heard they're best in the early spring too, and that the older plants are more bitter. Given the slightly bitter taste, I thought they would make a decent, tart pesto, and this tasted a little like arugula pesto.

Here the pesto is tossed with some roasted cubed sweet potato - the sweetness is a great contrast to the subtle bitterness of the lemon juice and greens in the pesto. It's a simple salad, and you could get more creative with other added veggies - squash, red potatoes, sweet peppers, pasta, and beans would all be great. Here's what I used for the pesto, made in the food processor:

2 cups dandelion greens, washed well
1 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
juice from 1/2 a lemon, 2 tbsp. or so


Anonymous said...

I'm not normally a fan of sweet potatoes, but this recipes seems like something I'd actually enjoy. If I do, I'm posting a link of this to for other to try. Can you use regular potatoes.

Bianca said...

Sweet! I could probably round up a few cups of dandelion greens in my yard right now! I'm no fan of mowing and I don't use they spring up like crazy and I let 'em grow until I get nervous that the neighbors will start to talk (then I break down and mow).

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

what gorgeous colors. I was weeding dandelions in my yard this weekend (tough little suckers) and it didn't occur to me that I could eat them. On second thought, the backyard where Scout sometimes does her business would probably not be the best place to harvest.

Anonymous said...

Wow interesting....ya really post some of the most inventive recipes around.

No wonder I'm still reading your blog Iron Chef!