What I love most about spring is the slowly returning green, bursting forth from beneath the snow. Here the season is wet, surprisingly warm during the day and full of wild flowers, edible shoots and leaves. The season signals the return of abundant wild food harvesting time.
Two of my favourite spring time wild crafted medicinal plants are dandelion and stinging nettle.
Both are very rich with nutrients and vitamins. These powerhouse healers cleanse blood and support the liver as well as the respiratory, urinary and digestive systems. They are also very supportive for early pregnancy.
Dandelion especially is very easy to find and harvest, they grow prolifically and are often feared by gardeners. This is really a shame because dandelions are great food and very supportive of bees. Nettles tend to be found near bodies of water, streams or oceans. Its easy to notice them if you trespass into their space because they’ll sting you. With patience nettles can be harvested and processed by hand. They tend to sting when we are paying the least attention. But the stings not all bad, the acid is quite useful for treatment of arthritis. Some people even sting themselves with nettles on purpose.
One of my favouite ways to prepare both of these greens is making pesto. I’ve been making spring green pesto for years with many different recipes. Last night I made a batch that is so far one of my favorites so i am passing on the recipe to you.
1 1/2 cup dandelion greens
1 1/2 cups nettle leaves (you could use three cups of either solo, or any ratio really)
1/2 cup cashews
4 cloves garlic (can be adjusted based on how strong your garlic is and how garlic heavy you like your pesto)
3/4 cups of oil (i used sunflower, you can use what you prefer) + 1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (could substitute cheese if you prefer)
salt + pepper
put 1 tbsp oil into medium pan. bring pan up to medium heat. add cashews and garlic. heat until both are a warm golden brown. when finished remove mixture from heat and place into separate bowl or food processor.
keeping the remaining oil in the pan and turning the heat off, add greens. keep greens in heat until they wilt and sweat mildly. in the end they will look like this:
remove the greens from heat and add them to a food processor. add nutritional yeast, cashews, garlic, salt and pepper as well as a small amount of the oil.
turn on the food processor and slowly add oil as mixture blends. you don’t need to add all the oil if it feels like too much. if you are using a blender you will want to add all the oil first, otherwise the mixture may not blend.
pesto can be frozen or kept in the fridge. some folks i know like to put it into ice cube trays to have single serving portions. i love eating it on toast with an egg.
ps: if you live in the slocan valley or nelson area, i have a few jars of this pesto for sale or trade. let me know if you’d like some <3