DIY Kitchen: dandelion pesto
I’m glad we’ve already established that life is a little different around here. Y’know, roadkill, elk pee-camo, our musical aptitudes ranging from mixed tapes (Rachel’s Driving Mix, 1990!) to my off-tune warblings of melancholy Cat Stevens songs. Also, I’m so glad I have this uncensored space in which to be weirdly myself, in addition to the bi-weekly newspaper column I write, where my editor advised me early on to chill out on the mentioning of children’s secretions. Even the editor of the magazine I write for, whom I adore, regularly reminds me to consider the greater population, including Republicans.
And it’s not that eating dandelions is so radical, I mean, every Eastern European grandma is on her hands and knees right now stuffing jagged leaves into a pouch, her grandmother’s warning about scurvy still ringing in her ears. But somehow most of America still treats these sunny little plants as enemies, dumping poison on them every year like a small yellow-headed flower is something to be scared of. Blah blah blah soapbox. (Col recently made a timeline of his life, and at age 2 he noted: “Rosie born, blah blah blah”).
Mouthwatering – the roasted nuts are the brown parts
Wait – do we need to talk about eating dandelions first? About how dandelion leaves are a power food? About how they have as much calcium as milk, cup for cup, or how they’re riddled with potassium, iron, Vitamins A, B and C? About how they taste mild and foresty with just a hint of bitterness – a bitterness that your liver would encourage you to eat and which disappears under a salad dressing or in…pesto? Okay, now that you’re all totally on board with the idea of eating dandelions: 1) pick ’em young, they get more bitter after flowering; look in shady spots where they’re less likely to have flowered. 2) watch out for areas that may have been sprayed with chemicals. 3) if you live in a super hip city like my mom, you can probably find them at your local farmers market or natural food store.
Also, I won first prize at the 2003 Dandelion Festival Cook Off with this recipe:
3 cups young dandelion leaves
1 cup roasted nuts (roast in oven/toaster oven at 250F for 20 minutes. I used almonds, walnuts or pecans would be good too)
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1 fat lemon
2 cloves garlic
Blend everything until smooth.
I’ve never measured dandelions before. I like the conventionality of it. Maybe my editors would too. Also, I’m in love with this food processor that I borrowed from my friend Natalie. What a miracle machine! Someday I might like to experience the miracle of a dishwasher.
Dandelion leaves in the field. These were picked in the forest under shady oaks and ponderosas pines.
And at home: tender young things
When I spooned some dandelion pesto into the kids’ mouths, Col said “hmm, well, it’s pretty good, but it’s not my first choice of things to eat.” How diplomatic! I thought. Until I remembered these are the very words we’ve been repeatedly giving the children as an alternate to “yuck.” But, I’m learning that my children are an ocean of changing tides; someday, I predict, Col will be serving a dandelion salad to his kids, like his dad and grandfather before him.
Tell me about your differentness.