Monday, 9 March 2015

Dandelion and Spinach Pesto

This is our regular go-to pesto.  Basil is something I have never been able to keep alive, sadly.  I have kept soft herbs in the freezer in the past but have never got into the habit.  Anyway, this is a more economical and exotic version that the whole household loves.  Oh, and dandelion is packed with iron and calcium so you are getting more health benefits for less cost too.

The spinach is something we always have in the fridge.  Baby spinach usually gives a sweeter outcome here, but larger leaves of cooking spinach also works fine.  The sweet juicy spinach leaves counteract the more bitter edge of dandelion leaves; the mild iron tang from the dandelion gives this pesto its depth of flavour.  To keep the pesto pleasant for milder palates, I use a combination of extra virgin olive oil and rapeseed oil; you could be sensible and use plain old olive oil if that is what you keep in the cupboard.

The nuts can be any nut you like.  We have used walnut, almond and cashew, each giving a different final flavour and they all worked beautifully;.  When I am making this for the littlest children, I like to use ready ground almonds to ensure there are no rogue bits of nut they can choke on.
I like to add a little lemon juice too, for zing, although it is not usual for pesto.  And for the garlic, garlic powder means that you don’t get that harsh raw garlic hit; just lovely mellow garlickiness.

This pesto goes beautifully with hummus on a lunchtime salad, or on pasta, but we mostly use it to add gorgeous grassy greenness on top of the tomato sauce layer of pizza and puff pastry tarts.
This is enough to top of couple of pizza or tarts.

½ cup spinach leaves
¼ cup dandelion leaves or around 2 tbsp of leaves that have been frozen and crumbled
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grated hard cheese (dairy free here)
2 tbsp nuts (walnut pieces, cashews, almonds or ready ground almonds)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp lemon juice from a bottle

Whiz everything together with a blender- I use my hand blender.   To thin it out to our preferred consistency, I keep blending and gradually add a little water until we get there.

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