Spring is bursting across Alaska, and with warmer temps and longer days comes the return of wild edibles!
In our backyard, garden, and on regular walks about town I'm starting to spot familiar plant friends like dandelion, nettle, plantain, and horsetail emerging from damp soils to take in the spring sun.
My favorite way to enjoy the emergence of fresh edible spring greens is to mix them up into a nutritious deliciously garlicky pesto that can be slathered on crusty sourdough bread, mixed into pasta with the remainder of winter's smoked salmon, or spread atop a fried egg for breakfast.
Don't pull them out of your yard and garden beds, EAT the weeds with this delicious wild greens pesto recipe!
Wild Spring Greens Pesto
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 handfuls (or approx. 3 cups) of fresh spring greens. I used nettles, dandelion, and chives; use whatever edibles are growing in your backyard! Chickweed, ramps (leaves only please!), garlic scapes, etc. If you use nettles, give them a quick blanch in boiling water and strain well before adding them to your mix to take out the sting.
1/4 cup nuts. Use whatever nuts (or seeds) you have on hand. I used walnuts, but you could sub pine nuts, almonds, or even raw pumpkin seeds. Bonus flavor points if you take a few extra minutes to roast them!
1/2 tsp salt, add more to taste. The salt and lemon juice play off of each other to create a delightful bright zip that brings out the flavor of your greens, so taste and add as you go.
Approx. 1/4 cup olive oil. Some folks like their pesto more pasty, some like it more runny. Start with a few good glugs of oil, and add more as you blend/mix your pesto to get the texture you want.
The easiest way to make pesto is in a food processor or blender. If you don’t have access to one, you can simply chop & mash your ingredients together with a sharp knife and a bit of elbow grease.
Start with the garlic cloves; toss these in the processor and give it a whir to chop them up. Then add your nuts or seeds and give them a chop.
Now you can pile in the rest of your ingredients: a heap of greens, lemon juice, cheese, salt, and your first few glugs of oil.
Run the food processor until it all blends into a lovely bright green paste. Scrape down the sides as you go, and drizzle in more oil while it blends to create your perfect texture. I like it somewhere between pasty & runny, so that when I add the pesto to warm pasta or bread the ingredients melt down to oily cheesy perfection. Taste test to see if you'd like to add more salt or a splash of lemon juice.
Enjoy your super fresh pesto immediately in your dish of choice, and store any extra in a closed jar in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze to use later.
Bon appetite & happy spring foraging!
(Our fresh pesto became a delicious sauce for chicken, artichoke, cherry tomato pizza!)