Dandelion GreensPosted on April 18, 2012 in
This afternoon found me bent over in my yard in a light drizzle picking dandelions. I was not weeding, but rather gathering up some of my favorite springtime greens. Now, I do realize that one of my previous posts was also about a wildcrafted springtime plant. I am not some crazy lady who spends all day trying to find free food, storing nuts away in a tree with the squirrels. But when I saw dandelion greens for sale at a local organic grocery store for a hefty price, I smiled to myself. I can get those for FREE in my yard! Perhaps it’s the Portlandia inside of me, but why pay $6.99 a pound or more for something I can get for free? Plus, wild caught Oregon Dover sole was in the fish case, and I wanted to spend some of my shopping budget there. Who would argue with that logic?
Aside from the fact that I love the taste of all bitter greens (kale, arugula, etc), I know dandelions are nutritional powerhouses. Most leafy greens are. But considering that I took 8 ½ years of French and only now just realized that the word dandelion is actually from the French phrase “dent de lion” or lion’s teeth, which is what the leaves look like, there is a lot more I didn’t know about dandelions. So I turned to my friend Google to find out more about dandelions (and to make sure there wasn’t any plants that masquerade as a dandelion that might poison me; luckily there’s not).
Turns out, dandelions are AMAZING for you! You can use the leaves in a variety of culinary applications, you can make tea with the root, or you can roast and grind the root for a type of coffee or make wine with the flowers. They are apparently a liver tonic, blood purifier, digestive system cleanser, kidney stone eradicator, cancer preventer, and provide many more health benefits. According to several sources, a report entitled USDA Bulletin #8, “Composition of Foods” (Haytowitz and Matthews 1984), showed that dandelions are in the top 4 green vegetables for their overall nutritional value. Wow! Have you ever tried to pull up an entire, mature dandelion plant? The roots run really deep and supposedly that’s one reason why dandelions are so nutritious: they are able to pull many trace minerals from deeper down in the soil that many other plants can’t reach. The next time you are yanking them out of your garden, instead of cursing, you should praise the dandelion for its deep taproot (and take the plant right into the kitchen!).
So now I have all these fabulous, good for you greens and what better way to bump up their nutritional value than to smother then with bacon and butter? I have decided to make a quiche. I had already whipped up a crust that’s hanging out in the fridge, waiting to be filled with leftovers. Now my plans are to prepare the Onion Confit recipe from the Bouchon cookbook, sauté ½ pound of bacon and then sauté the dandelion greens in the bacon fat with some olive oil and salt. I will pile that all in the bottom of the crust, pour in some eggs, milk, some Grana Padano, a pinch of salt, maybe some thyme over top and bake. And wait for accolades from my husband.
Here is my recipe for the crust of the quiche given to me by my dear friend Ellen Berg, who happens to work at one of the famed restaurants here in Portland, Beast! Lucky me to have such a friend! Before this recipe, I always struggled with pie crust. I hope you find it as easy. Thanks Ellen!
Ellen’s Simple Pastry (Pate Sucree) (Duh, this is not Pate Sucree!, excuse my French!)
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed (if after cubing, the butter warms up, stick it in the freezer)
3-5 tbs ice water
Pulse the first 3 ingredients in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse together until the butter is pea-sized. Add 3-5 Tbs of ice water (no ice! And I almost never use more than 4 Tbs) during long pauses until the dough holds together when squeezed between fingers. The dough may still appear crumbly. Wrap in plastic wrap, shape into a disk and chill 2 hours or up to 4 days.
*If you plan to harvest dandelions from your yard or elsewhere, make sure they come from a no-spray yard and rinse them quite well. We have never put any chemicals or pesticides on our yard, nor do we add any kind of weird moss killer to the roof that could seep into our lawn.