Come spring I crave green!
But even before the garden starts to offer fresh veggies, the earth is producing edible, nutritious, and wild weeds. They’re only available for a short time, so be sure and gather as many delicious spring greens — all free for the taking.
A Recipe for Wild Weed Pesto
There are many ways to enjoy these wild weeds of spring, but a favorite in this house is pesto! Not only is it excellent fresh…it’s also a great way to preserve the goodness of the plants for eating months after they are gone.
-1-2 cups good quality olive oil
-1/2 cup nuts, chopped (i.e. pine nuts, walnuts, or cashew)
-3 cloves garlic
-3-4 handfuls fresh picked wild weeds (i.e. chickweed, nettles, dandelion greens, spring cresses, or sow thistle…whatever you have growing in your yard)
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a blender or food processor, combine and blend the olive oil, nuts, and garlic until creamy.
2. Add the raw, wild weeds and blend thoroughly.
3. Stir to combine Parmesan cheese.
4. Enjoy in pasta or atop crusty bread…yum!
How to Preserve Pesto
As I mentioned above, pesto is a great way to preserve the wild weeds of spring — and not to mention basil when that harvest comes around. There are two basic ways you can put up pesto:
- Freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop the cubes out and put into a freezer safe container.
- Pack your fresh pesto into small glass canning jars, no more than one or two servings per jar. Smooth the top of the mixture with the back of a spoon, then pour a small amount of olive oil over the top — this provides a seal. Now, screw the lids onto the jars, and store in a cool, dark place. It should keep for up to two months.
Note: Don’t forget to skip the parmesan cheese in the recipe if you are preserving the pesto. Simply add fresh grated cheese later, when you’re ready to use it.
This is a great way to incorporate wild greens into a family’s diet! Give it a try and let us know what they say 🙂
What’s your favorite way to use edible weeds?
You know, I’ve been eyeing up those dandelion greens in my (very diverse!) yard for awhile now… this post has inspired me to go gather some up. Thanks for the great idea for pesto!
Thank you for the wonderful new way to use all of the great free greens growing all over my yard!
Emily @Random Recycling says
I never thought to do this but it makes perfect sense! thanks.
I just want to put out a word of caution for the “whatever you have in growing in your yard” statement. I live in Idaho and we have Poison Hemlock growing in our yard. Granted we do live in a more remote location than most, but only a little of that stuff can kill you and it looks very much like wild carrot in the Spring when it just starts growing. Please make sure you know what the plant is before you eat it! Great recipe, by the way…I may have to try it soon!
I have been making pesto out of the spinach, kale, carrot, turnip, and beet tops, from the garden. Good use for greens that might be slightly damaged and not suitable for raw use. Try using grated pecorino romano in place of parmesan cheese. I also add a lot of garlic to all!
My fav pesto includes garlic chives and normal chives with the usual basil. Thanks for the inspiration to experiment with more unusual greens. I always leave out the cheese myself – easier to store as well as giving a cleaner, herby flavour.
Helen Carpenter says
What a FAB idea! Getting pine nuts today – it’s an adventure! Thanks!
I love your idea about storing the pesto. We all can use ideas on how to preserve things without heat. One thing though. I used to make herb oils (still do sometimes) and I learned that it is not a good idea to store garlic in olive oil (or any for that matter). I couldn’t remember the exact reason so I looked it up and it can have botulism spores that grow and give you food poison! I found it here http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/garlic-ail-eng.php Just saying, I don’t want anyone to get sick from the garlic stored in oil. I really enjoy your blog so keep up the good work.
I love to pick dandelions and serve ‘big salads’ – mixing the dandelions half and half with other lettuces that aren’t quite as pungent, then adding anything from tomatoes, cheese, egg, olives, walnuts, ground flax, cottage cheese, peas, garbanzo beans (or any bean)… to any diced veggie you can think of on top. Toss with a little malt vinegar or balsamic and olive oil and it’s great! My tiny kids even like it. 🙂