Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fine and Dandelion

A few years ago, the lovely Phoenix introduced me to a book called The Dandelion Celebration, loaded with nutritional information about and recipes for the most common wildflower in the neighborhood. (That's wildflower, not weed. Got it?)

I came across it again this winter at the local used book store, and I decided to take it home with me. Turns out the author of the book is a fellow Ohioan, a scholar in the field of food as medicine, particularly wild edibles. And as I thumbed through the pages, I realized that I had many more possibilities for devouring spring's first edible offerings than just dandelion wine (wonderful though it may be).

So on my visit to the farm this past weekend, I decided I'd look around and see if I could forage any dandelion greens -- not to mention to look for buds to see how long I might have to wait to gather blossoms. I found plenty of tender greens poking up here and there, and some of the larger plants already had one or more plump flower buds nestled into the crown. A bumper crop!

Knife in hand, I walked along the lane behind the house and stopped periodically, stooping to cut a bunch of greens from a young plant and tossing the greens into the colander. I worked until I had a full container, and then I headed back into the house to warm up and wash the greens.

After washing them, I dropped them in a steamer basket and steamed them until they were limp, then dumped them back into the colander and finished the blanching process with a thorough dousing in cold water. I decided to take this approach with the greens because I knew I wouldn't really have a chance to experiment with the freshly-cut leaves there at the farm, and I had plenty of recipes for cooked greens that I wanted to try. So I squeezed out the water and packed the greens into a plastic bag to take home. (Ah yes, farm take-out... there's nothing like it.)

The greens sat in my refrigerator, a little forlorn, until this evening, when I knew I wanted a quick, comforting meal. I had had visions of an omelet with dandelion greens, but I've never been able to flip a perfect omelet to save my life, so I downscaled that vision a bit.

I browned potato slices in my big skillet, and when they had become satisfyingly crisp, I added minced garlic, a handful of greens, salt, pepper, and a splash of black raspberry vinegar. Once that had cooked a bit, I threw in a mixture of three eggs beaten with milk and scrambled it all together.

I made a lot more than what's pictured, of course, being a hearty eater of such comfort food. But the Renaissance Man came by to share dinner, and I forgot to pull out the camera until he had his portion half eaten. ("It tasted like something was missing!" he teased when I reached for the camera. "It doesn't have all the nutrition if you don't take a picture!")

Joking aside, though, he agreed with me that the dandelion greens tasted great in this combination, with none of the bitterness I've usually experienced in eating them raw or simply sautéed.

Now, of course, I still have more greens to use up, so I'll have to try some other recipes. Somehow I suspect they might work well in a substantial soup or in an Indian dish (replacing spinach), and if I find a little more time this week, I'll test one of those thoughts.

And that's just fine and dandy by me.


At 4/22/2008 6:03 PM, Blogger cv said...

I have long been intriqued with eating dandylion leaves, but afraid of their bitter flavor.

You have given me courage.

The potato egg dish looks wonderful!

At 4/23/2008 7:09 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

cv, I think the trick is blanching the greens first and then adding a bit of vinegar as you saute them. Though I think I've also read that somehow, cooking them with potatoes or eating them with bread takes away some of the bitterness... something to do with the starches, maybe?


Post a Comment

<< Home