Don’t Spray Dandelions, Eat Them – A Recipe You Will Actually Like

eat dandelion pesto

Fresh picked dandelion greens, washed dandelion greens, fresh dandelion pesto, served over pasta.

Too many homeowners today freak out and unleash chemical warfare at the first sign of a weed or bug in their lawn or garden.

Why do we do that? Because that is all we know.

But if you like to eat any other types of greens (raw or cooked), like spinach, lettuce, collards, kale or arugula, you should try eating dandelion greens.

Dandelion Greens are Free

We like to growing things we can eat on our property and also try to live the hunter-gatherer lifestyle as much as we can in our modern/overdeveloped world. We eat as much wild game and fish as possible and gather edible plants and mushrooms we can identify.

We can grow lots of different greens and vegetables in our garden, but have a hard time getting small seeds to sprout (lettuce, spinach, kale and chard) in our dry, high elevation climate. But dandelions simply show up and grow vigorously without any effort or expense at all.

I admit raw dandelion greens taste a little bitter to me, like arugula, but without the peppery taste, so when Sonia mentioned she had seen a recipe to make pesto using dandelion greens, I was skeptical. I had always related eating dandelions as a joke our scout masters played on us as kids. As if we could really survive on nothing but dandelions if we were lost in the woods.

Warning: For any of you that are adventurous or curious enough to eat dandelions that still put poison on your lawns, you probably shouldn’t eat dandelions from your yard for several years after you stop poisoning.

But since many of you seem to ignore the warnings on the product labels about not walking on your lawn after treatment or not letting your children or pets play on the lawn and for those that fail to sweep any spilled product off of the driveways and walk ways to prevent the poison from washing into our streams, you probably won’t pay attention to this warning either. But at least make sure you can identify a dandelion.

Dandelion Pesto Recipe

I popped a few dozen dandelions out of the ground in a few minutes with an old screwdriver. I pinched off the leaves (upper left in photo) and threw the roots on the compost pile. The hard part of my job was done. Sonia did the rest.

Sonia uses this basic pesto recipe. We like the fact that the pesto recipe mentions a variety of substitutions that can be used, such as different types of greens and nuts. So, you can follow the recipe and make traditional pesto or you can experiment. I think using dandelion greens in pesto can definitely be called an experiment.

Dandelion Pesto Ingredients and Directions

  • 4 cups packed dandelion leaves (basil is traditional)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (this is traditional)
  • 1/2 cup nuts – used mix of pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sliced almonds (pine nuts are traditional)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano is most traditional)
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil (to preserve some traditional flavor)
  • Garlic , Salt and Pepper to taste (2 cloves crushed garlic)

The dandelion leaves were washed and spun dry in the salad spinner (upper right in photo). The nuts were toasted in a frying pan, then the rest of the ingredients can either be crushed and blended with a mortar and pestle (traditional) or simply blended in a food processor (lower left in photo).

Sonia served the dandelion pesto over pasta (lower right in photo) and it was delicious! I would never have guessed it was made with dandelion greens. I know skinny people don’t have seconds, but I did and then ate the rest of the pesto with the left over pasta the next day. I also recommend pesto on toast or garlic bread.

Finally, a recipe using raw dandelions you will actually want to eat. Never again will I have to wait for our basil to grow or drive to the store to buy fresh basil to have pesto.

So, if we can actually eat dandelions, perhaps we can stop spraying them. A long shot? Maybe, but we have to start somewhere before homeowners dump another 67 million pounds of  chemicals in our water this year.

More Ways to Eat Dandelions

  • Add dandelion greens to salads
  • Add dandelion greens to a sandwich
  • Sauté dandelion greens with meat, fish or shellfish
  • Cook dandelion greens like/with any other greens (spinach, collards, kale, mustard)
  • Cook dandelion roots like carrots
  • Add dandelion greens or flowers to soups
  • Dandelion jelly (using flowers)
  • Fried dandelion flowers
  • Dandelion coffee or tea (from dried roots)
  • Flavor iced tea with dandelion flowers
  • Dandelion flower wine

Check back with us, we will provide more information on these recipes in the future.

Nutritional information for dandelion greens


  1. Oscar parks says

    I quit using pesticides on my lawn 3 years ago just so I could possibly start to use thg he dandelions and burdock that grows, should I wait a couple more years before ingesting any of the vegetation

    • Depends on which pesticide/herbicide you actually used, how much you used and what levels are actually “safe”. Obviously the chemical companies and FDA say it is safe from day one or why would we ever spray anything?
      Anyway think in terms of half-life. That is the time for half of the chemical to break down. If something had a 30 day half life, half of the chemical has turned into something else in 30 days. (Is that safe?) Then in another 30 days, another half is converted. So if you haven’t sprayed in 3 years (1095 days) then a pesticide/herbicide with a 30 day half-life would be halved 36 times or 0.00000000291% of the original.
      A 30 day half-life degrades to less than .01% by 420 days and less than .001% by 510 days.
      We are certainly contaminated in other ways on a daily basis more than than that.

      Pesticide Half-life Fact sheet

      Herbicide Half-life (see Table 2)

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