Free Local Veggies – Dandelion Edition

So, yesterday, I went out and picked Free Vegetables.
Specifically, I went out and picked dandelion greens from the front yards of various apartment buildings on my street (including my own).

I brought them home, rinsed them, blanched them, and then tossed them (there weren’t that many – I went out late and came back quickly, since my sweetie arrived home shortly after I started foraging) into a frying pan to make the following recipe:

~*~

Pasta Primavera with Sausages and Dandelion Greens

INGREDIENTS
3 already-cooked mild Italian sausages, sliced into rounds
4 cocktail tomatoes, diced
6 asparagus spears, sliced into 1″ lengths[1]
1/2 a flat of pre-sliced button mushrooms
1/4 C blanched dandelion greens
2-3 tbsp minced onion
2-3 tbsp butter
+
1 1/2 C cooked rotini

DIRECTIONS
1) Throw everything except the rotini into a frying pan
2) Sautee until onion is translucent and mushrooms are softened up and browning
3) Add the rotini
4) Heat through, while mixing everything (even distribution is a Good Thing)
5) Serve and enjoy

~*~

Worked like a charm.
If you want to veg*ify it, use pine nuts, soft cheese (like mozzerella or chevre), tempeh, or marinated seitan/tofu in place of the sausages, and add a pinch of chili powder to the mix. Try sesame oil in lieu of the butter, if you’re aiming for vegan.

~*~

Re: dandelion greens as veggies:
Like any salad greens, they are small. You need to gather a LOT to make any kind of a meal from them.
They are also wild food, so they tend towards bitter. Aim for small (young) leaves – even though this takes longer – and blanch them[2] before cooking them into whatever dish you’re making.

NOTE: I’ve had dandelion salad using raw dandelion leaves. They’re fine to eat. Just be aware of the bitterness. Serving them with fat and salt (E.G.: a creamy salad dressing that includes cashew butter and tamari; a handful of fresh cheese curds, soft mozzerella, or shredded old cheddar; a liberal sprinkling of crisply fried bacon bits or slivers of prosciutto) will help to offset any bitterness. Similarly, adding sharp-sweetness (think dried fruit like currants or apples; sweet baby tomatoes[3] or fresh blackberries[3]; or a dressing that includes apple juice instead of vinegar) can play with the slight bitterness of dandelion greens to great effect.

My plan is to hit up a local (*cide-free) park and try to grab a freezer-bag full of the things. That way, I can do them up with bocconcini[4] balls, my few remaining (golden and candy-cane) beets, and maybe some mustard and balsamic vinegar[5] and have a Fabulous Meal that is heavy on the veggies[6]. Huzzah! πŸ˜€

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] Though nowhere near as local as the dandelion greens, that’s for sure. πŸ˜‰

[2] Quick-cooking to get rid of some of the tanins

[3] If you’re making dandelion salad in August, rather than in May that is. πŸ˜‰

[4] Much less flavourful than chevre, or even marinated mozzerella – alas – but they’ll do in a pinch and they’re what I have on hand.

[5] I’ve been putting balsamic vinegar on *everything* these days. Not that you can blame me. Mmmmmmm… balsamic vinegar… πŸ˜€

[6] Now that Spring (and, pretty much, Summer) is here – it seriously all happened inside of last week – I’m trying to aim for veggie-heavy, starch-and-meat-light dinners FAR more often. Winter is very much a time for perogies and pulled pork and root veggies and roasts and barley-and-mushroom stews featuring leftover critter. Which means Summer needs to be a time when we go light and leafy and eat more raw food and more veggies. This is what I’m aiming for, anyway. It definitely doesn’t mean that barbicue is off the menu. Just that salad (SALAD!!!) is very firmly on it. πŸ™‚

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4 responses to “Free Local Veggies – Dandelion Edition

  1. That sounds delightful!
    I sampled a dandelion from the yard the other day – it was bitter and pungent, but very tasty raw.

    I’m going to have to harvest them soon if I want young leaves. ^^

  2. I’ve picked big leaves and had no problems with them. πŸ™‚ That said, if you pick the little leaves, you’ll keep getting more little leaves in their place, so it’s kind of a “cut and come again” thing. πŸ™‚

  3. Pingback: More About Dandelions | Urban Meliad

  4. Pingback: Hidden Harvest Ottawa! :-D | Urban Meliad

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