Friday, May 10, 2013

Wild Dandelion and Ramp Pesto

Wild ramps and spring dandelions are out- and ready for the picking! Don't you just love free food?

Dandelion greens are best from young, vibrantly green plants, found in any nice field not frequently used for walking. After snipping the greens and washing with cold water, they can be enjoyed as a bitter component in raw salads, or cooked like any other hearty green.         

Ramps, or wild leeks, typically grow in wet areas, often by rivers. Part of the allium family, they smell distinctively like onion and have an earthy scallion-like flavor. Go hunting with a small trowel and gently dig up the roots to preserve the whole plant. The general rule of thumb is to take no more than 10% of the patch you find, as they will not grow back the next year after being harvested. 

The leaves are milder than the roots, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. This year, I made some leaves into pesto and pureed the rest simply with olive oil, then froze them in ice cube trays for convenience. With the more potent roots, I pickled some in a sweet and spicy brine and chopped and froze the rest to use throughout the year. 

Packed with omega-3 fatty acids as well as loads of vitamin C and chlorophyll, this pesto can be used on pasta, baked breads, pizzas, or the like. I love a little scrambled in my morning eggs.

Wild Ramp and Dandelion Pesto

Makes 2 cups

2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
3 cups dandelion greens, washed and chopped
2 cups wild ramp leaves, washed and chopped
1 bunch basil, washed and chopped
1 cup arugula
1/4 cup hemp seeds
Juice from 1/2 a lemon, 2 Tablespoons
1 teaspoon miso
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon flax seed oil (optional)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Process the garlic and walnuts in a food processor until well ground.  Add all of the greens, hempseeds, lemon juice, miso, and yeast and process to combine, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.  While the motor is running, add oils until the pesto is holding together.  Season to taste with salt as needed and refrigerate until serving.

Relax. Eat Well.

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