Different Types of Wild Greens with Pesto Recipe

Add zest to salads and pesto by using wild greens found in your backyard.

| January 2018

The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), by Sean Sherman and Beth Dooley introduces readers to modern cuisine of the Dakota and Minnesota territories. The book shares award-winning recipes that embrace locally sourced and seasonal, "clean" ingredients. The following excerpt is from Chapter 1, "Fields and Gardens."

You can buy purchase this book from the Heirloom Gardener store: The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen.

We've become so accustomed to ridding our gardens and lawns of dandelion greens, purslane, plantain, and other wild greens that we've forgotten they are good food. Although it's unclear if dandelions, purslane, and plantain are indigenous, there is some evidence that they may have reached North America in the pre-Columbian era, suggesting that these plants were already being eaten by Native Americans before Europeans arrived. Add wood sorrel, watercress, lamb's quarters, miner's lettuce, clover, and garlic mustard that grow wild in backyards, fields, and the borders of forests, and you have a great salad mix — delicious and loaded with vitamins. Instead of trying to eradicate these plants in our lawns, we can just eat them up!

Wild Greens Glossary


The entire amaranth plant is edible — its tiny shoots, the green leaves, stems, seeds, and roots. When harvested young, they add zip to salads and pesto and make a lively garnish for soups.


Early in the season, the entire plant is still tender and bright tasting, so we use it all in salads and pesto. Early in the season the leaves are mild, succulent, and delicate, then they grow bitter as the months progress.


Clover is the first green to appear in the spring and tastiest when it's enjoyed early on. As the season progresses, it becomes bitter.

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