Ground Elder Pesto

Ground elder might be every gardener’s nightmare, but everyone who forages from time to time will know that is also edible. This stubborn and prolific weed behaves rather like spinach when cooked, but its leaves can also be used raw and turned into a dense – but moreish – homemade pesto.

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A big bowl of ground elder pesto that I made for my food demo on June 26, 2016

Ingredients:

This will be enough for a small batch. I know this recipe is not very specific, but I tend to make this pesto intuitively. 

handful of ground elder leaves

a few leaves of basil

a good handful of grated Parmesan cheese or extra mature (overjarige) Dutch cheese

1 clove of garlic, crushed

a few walnut halves, crumbled

  • First put the ground elder in the blender with a little oil or just mince it to oblivion with a blender stick, then mix in the cheese, garlic and walnuts according to taste, blend till smooth and add enough oil to get a good loose pesto consistency. Spread on a piece of toast, use it in a pasta dish, or serve it as part of a little starter containing buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes.
  • This pesto improves with time, so if you have the opportunity to make it one day in advance, do it. A night in the fridge will give the flavours time to really get to know each other.
  • You can store this pesto in a sealed container in the fridge for at least a week and if you want you can also freeze it for later use.

An additional note: apparently, or so the internet tells me, the leaves are best eaten before the plant flowers, which is usually in May or June. After that, their taste will become less delicate, and they can have a slightly laxative effect. Also, make sure to wash the leaves thoroughly before use and to not forage in places that are regularly frequented by dogs!

 

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