Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dandelions in the kitchen

As mentioned, I like my dandelions right off the plant, nothing fancy about nipping a leaf and stuffing it in my mouth. If I want to take a few extra minutes, I can grab a container of hummus out of the fridge and use it as a dip for the dandy leaves with strong midribs - a tasty combination. Or just spread the hummus on a leaf, roll it up, and pop it in!

Here are some links to a couple of my favorite herbal info sites. You will find some good dandelion recipes, some intriguing recipes, and some "you gotta be kidding" recipes.

To get you started, here is a simple, familiar-sounding recipe - it just uses dandelion instead of lettuce:

Warm Dandelion Greens Salad

3/4 pound dandelion leaves

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt freshly ground pepper to taste

4 ounces smoked bacon

1 slice French or Italian bread, cubed

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 hard boiled egg, crumbled.

1.Wash the greens and tear into small pieces. Put into a warmed salad bowl with the oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss lightly.

2. Fry bacon until half cooked. Add bread cubes and fry until cubes are golden and the bacon is completely cooked. Tip contents of the pan (fat and all if you want to be completely French about it) onto the greens. Toss quickly.

3. Put the vinegar into the pan and heat rapidly. When it is bubbling fiercely, pour onto the greens and toss. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of the crumbled egg on top. Serves two.

Have you made any dandelion flower fritters yet? Chef J and I will be making some tomorrow afternoon. We'll return and report.
In the meantime, how about making some dandelion vinegar? You will use it for making salad dressings, mustards, and other foods, as well as using it for a tonic.
Dandelion Vinegar:
Fill a quart jar with chopped dandelion leaves ( I use my handy food processor); you don't need to pound them in, but tap the jar on the counter a few times to settle the leaves, and add more to come up to the shoulder of the jar. Pour apple cider vinegar over the dandelions, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Cover the jar with a piece of waxed paper, then put on a lid and ring. Label that jar!
Let steep for about 6 weeks. Strain out the leaves and put the vinegar into a labeled jar or bottle. LABEL!!

How are you doing with the Dandelion Challenge? Don't forget, you can keep tender new young leaves coming up by cutting the older leaves off and watering the dandelion.

Bet you never thought you'd be encouraging dandelions to grow, did you??

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