Dandelion Walnut Pesto-Spread

By • April 29, 2014 1 Comments

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Author Notes: Spring is taking its sweet time this year, and the lack of asparagus and peas is making me antsy. I picked up some dandelion greens because they were the closest I could get to seasonal cheer; their bitterness called out for some nice, rich walnuts and a bit of sweet citrus, hence this spread/pesto thing. Although the recipe happens to be vegan, I am not, so I've been using it in a sandwich with cucumber slices and Beecher's No Woman cheese on homemade bread. I highly recommend the combination; I suspect it would also be good as a traditional sort of pesto on pasta situation, or as a dip for crudite, or whatever else you use pesto for (which, in my case, may or may not include eating with a spoon).

Just so you know, this can be made with an immersion blender (that's how I did it, since it's what I have) but it would be MUCH easier with something like a food processor.


Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 navel orange
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup (scant) walnuts (approx 1.5 ounces)
  • 6 ounces dandelion greens (weigh after washing and drying, so you don't weigh the grit that will inevitably be on the leaves)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • water
  1. Start by preheating the oven to 400F and lining a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Cut the top and bottom off the orange, just enough to expose the juicy part, and then quarter the orange lengthwise. Slice the quarters thinly (about 1/8") into little pie-slice pieces. Spread the oranges out on the baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and then toss the garlic cloves (unpeeled) onto the baking sheet with them. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring once in the middle, until the oranges begin to caramelize and the garlic is soft.
  2. Meanwhile, put the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped. Coarsely chop the dandelion greens and throw them in with the walnuts. Process that all together. Add the roasted orange slices, the garlic cloves (peeled once they're all roasted), a glug of olive oil (maybe 2 tablespoons), a pinch of salt, and a dash of cider vinegar (1-2 tablespoons, or to taste). Process everything until well-mixed and smooth. Taste and adjust for salt and vinegar. Then, adjust for thickness by adding a little water (there's enough richness from the walnuts that it will be fine. I used maybe 3 tablespoons of water, and still got a very thick spread, but the amount will vary depending on how well you dry your dandelion greens after washing).

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