Jack by the Hedge & Dandelion Flower Pesto

Typically enough, life has rather run away with me again here in Lincolnshire, with large amounts of time being taken up with planting up my new herb garden (yippee!) and with planning for the Hatfield House Living Crafts event, next week.  I have, however, found the time to come up with a few new recipes,  one of which I tried out with some lovely students this week.  The result was so tasty I thought I’d share it with the rest of you – its basically a pesto recipe with a few foraged ingredients added instead of the basil.  The idea for the recipe came from the lovely Kay from Kay and Pete’s Preserves, who I ran into on the market circuit a few years ago.  The original recipe she gave me has long since gone the way of most random paperwork in my house, so this is my version of it instead.

Jack by the Hedge (Alliaria petiolata) which is just beginning to flower here in the Wolds.
Jack by the Hedge (Alliaria petiolata) which is just beginning to flower here in the Wolds.

Jack by the Hedge & Dandelion Flower Pesto

 

Ingredients:

At least one pint of loosely packed fresh Jack by the Hedge leaves

At least ½ pint dandelion flowers

1 small pot of grated Italian hard cheese

Olive oil

One medium pack of pine nuts

2 large cloves of garlic

 Instructions:

Rinse and pick over the Jack by the Hedge leaves, discarding any with additional seasoning of bird poo or insect residue on.   Pick the dandelion flower petals away from the green parts, then pile them and the leaves into a blender.   Add the pine nuts, peeled garlic cloves and at least half the pack of Italian cheese (or use grated fresh parmesan – I used what I could find in the shops at the time!)   Add a good slosh of olive oil and then put the lid on the blender. Blitz the whole lot on high for three or four one minute bursts – take care not to burn out the motor on the blender.   Taste a little. Add more olive oil and cheese if preferred – we ended up adding the whole pot to really give it that pesto kick.   Blend until it reaches a lovely consistency.

This pesto is delicious on home made bread or stirred in freshly cooked pasta with some pan grilled vegetables – it works particularly well with spelt pasta, cooked tomato, button mushroom and red pepper plus some slices on mozzarella cheese, mixed in and stirred before stirring.   A lovely late spring meal, high in vitamin C!

Dandelion flowers ready for preparing.
Dandelion flowers ready for preparing.

In other news, the preparing of the new herb gardens is going beautifully – further over excited sounding posts about this in the near future!   I’ve now got three herb beds, full of a variety of predominantly native herbs and wild flowers, and am constantly adding new bits and pieces here and there.   Drying lines have been put up in the kitchen, and my alcohol license has been applied for, so hopefully the next few months will see an increasing level of producing my own tinctures.  Exciting stuff!!

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