"When in doubt, use nettles.” - David Hoffman
Spring on the farm has been marked by many things: warmer temperatures that actually allow for t-shirts and cut-offs, a constant stream of baby animals, and the color green. Spring, though, has also shown itself in our woods and pastures through the wild greens we've been harvesting. Dandelions pop up unabashedly in yellow bursts, while stinging nettles - no less discreet - pop up along our creek beds and sting ankles and hands with no remorse.
These greens, however, are more than just confirmation that the season is in full swing, they are also highly medicinal and nutrient rich. Nettle, for instance, is a long-revered anti-histamine, and is high in iron and other vitamins & minerals - most specifically B vitamins, which modern folk tend to be particularly deficient in. Dandelion greens, another superpower in the wild greens category, boast high B vitamins, but are also a natural liver tonic and a great source of potassium and calcium.
This wild greens pesto is one of my favorite excuses to grab up armfuls of these medicinal giants. Keep in mind, though, when harvesting, that you'll want to avoid harvesting alongside a roads or in any areas that might be prone to sprayed pesticides. Also, while the recipe below mentions wild greens, it works well as a basic pesto recipe for any number of green leafy things: carrot greens, ramp greens, basil, arugula - essentially anything else you may have lying around. Go wild.
1/2 lb. of fresh wild greens and/or herbs, packed
1/2 cup of soaked nuts or seeds of choice (sunflower seeds or walnuts are my favorites)
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, or similar (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes approximately 1 cup.