Wednesday, April 28, 2010

recipe: now is the time to eat your lawn

Every spring, for the past several years, I've been telling myself: "Mark, eat the dandelions in your yard. They're so good for you and I bet they taste great. The co-op is selling them for $3.00 a bunch!" It's a fleeting thought that evaporates with the summer heat, when the dandelions morph from almost-pretty spring flora into desolate, dried-up, seed dispersing weeds. With a new baby and toddler in the house, my approach to lawn care has dropped to historically low levels, if it can be considered "care" at all. The upside is that my small city lot is, quite honestly, a dandelion farm. During times of famine, Italian schoolchildren were sent to the fields to gather wild greens, so why not harvest some from your (chemical free) yard?

This reality most certainly keeps my neighbors up at night, but they're missing out. In fact, they're likely chatting, nervously, about my lawn over a bag of pre-washed lettuce from sunny California. At this time of year, at least in MN, the dandelions are lush and tender, the flower heads just beginning to emerge. Dandelion greens are a great substitute for spinach or arugula, so you can prepare them as you would any other dark leafy green, such as chard, kale, collard green, etc. They even taste great in a salad with vinaigrette.

recipe: sautéed dandelion greens
In recent months I've resorted to increasingly minimalistic techniques to put fresh food on the table quickly, while keeping two little ones out of trouble. Consequently, this recipe doesn't break any new ground, but it will give you an idea of how easy it is to prepare utilitarian sautéed greens, which make an excellent first course, side dish, or leftover ingredient for other dishes like omelets and quiches. It's also an excuse to put down the laptop and weed your yard or garden.

Note: Like spinach, dandelion greens will wilt to a mere fraction of their initial volume, so you can cook a lot of them at once. Just make sure you have enough of the other ingredients to season them well.

Ingredients

  • One large bunch of trimmed, washed, and roughly chopped dandelion greens (two big fistfuls)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Technique
  1. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet. When smoking, add the garlic and optional red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic is very fragrant (but not brown), about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the greens and stir them quickly as they wilt. Cook until greens are still bright in color, but quite tender (3-5 minutes).
  3. Add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar (to taste), season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
*Serves 2-4 as a side dish

21 comments:

Dandelion King said...

intriguing concept: 'harvesting' my heavily-dandelioned yard.

what counts as greens? just leaves? the flowers? stems?


i, too, have two small kids. I have stopped using weed killer or fertilizer intentionally, and seed the living hell out of the yard instead.

Housekeepers said...

thanks for the comment. the greens would be the long leafy-looking part near the base of the plants. i remove the flower heads/stalks and roots prior to cooking, but the whole thing is edible if you want to be totally hardcore.

you can also boil the greens briefly before they go in the saute pan, which makes them extra soft. just make sure you wring the water out before dropping them in the pan to cook.

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Tabatha Mullins said...

I think that this is a very unique, intresting way of cooking. I would have never thought of eating the dandelions in my own yard. Thanks for the idea!

chelsea said...

This is a good idea. Thanks for the recipe.


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MyrtleHernandez said...

I will try to cook that at home thank you for the post...
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Edible Art said...

hmm. too bad dandelions are too dirty and.. hard too find in california city

escenario said...

es una reseta como la dee mi abuela es super

ajax5birasblog said...

muito interessante!

Rachel Neil said...

I've tried dandelion greens as a salad and in sandwiches.
And I've cooked the dandelion buds hidden in the leaves.
They taste like a mixture of brussel's sprouts and mushrooms.

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fender said...

It's good for my health. I do it very often.
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scfinder said...

Great

cooking
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Shirley said...

Had an aunt who was an American Indian, she was the first to introduce me to eating dandelion leaves. I learned a half dozen ways to serve them. The flowers get a bitter taste to them if not used when young. But they look good in salads as does the young petals of the rose, which is also edible.

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abdul wahab said...

These look fantastic! What an awesome idea I can’t wait to try this!

Thank for sharing the best recipes

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interesting.. thanks for this one..

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