So even after freezing rain, spring does return. I spent some time at the community garden plot this week and discovered that many of the little seeds I've planted are well on their way to coming up. Mizuna, lettuce, radishes, peas, daikons are all poking little cotyledons above the soil. 3 weeks till radish and mustard salads from the garden!
I also decided to take a quick walk around the field after weeding and watering to get a little exerzise and a breather after school and before heading to work. On my little jaunt I found mountains of wild mustards, dandelions and mallows. It was greens city. Lucky me had a basket and filled it full of wild spring greens! Yummy!
Wild nutrition and free food to boot! What could be better?
Dandelions are still pretty mild tasting right now, but they can get bitter and tough with age. I found a delicious way around the unpalatable bitterness that dandelion greens can sometimes have. Though the bitter flavor is actually beneficial for lots of reasons, here's a good way to tone it down a notch.
Pickled Dandelion Greens
1 pt jar with a lid filled to the brim (packed firmly)with washed and chopped dandelion greens
Fill half full with apple cider vinegar
Fill the rest with water leaving an inch at the top
add 1-2 tbsp sea salt
and 1-2 crushed garlic cloves
Put the lid on and shake well to mix the vinegar and salt in evenly among the greens and let sit and brine for 2-3 days. You can let it go longer if you'd like it ferment a bit (like saurkraut) but i was anxious to try my concoction and only left it out 2 days.
Use the greens as a topping or addition to any recipie, other sauteed greens, to soup, on top of veggies, or on a sandwhich. Delicious and nutritious! I'm a huge fan of pickles, and the sour vinegar and salt help moderate the bitter greens, but if you rinse them they'll be less salty. Also if you plan to eat them in one sitting, adding a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the jar and shaking just before eating ( please dont let olive oil and water sit on teh counter. Probably not a great idea as far as food safety is concerned). Or pour the olive oil over them on the plate. Yummy!
These were delicious on top of a meal of steamed green beans, tomatoes, garlic and sardines with garlic and lemon juice, and some dropped into my hot chicken broth for dinner.
My other favorite way to dress up wild greens, or even just kale or chard, is a big bowl of steamed greens, topped with a dressing of equal parts olive oil and lemon juice, with a clove of garlic crushed in, salt and pepper to taste.
Dandelion greens or any wild green you wish to serve is also quite good simmered in just a bit of chicken or beef broth. I add a 1/2 c of broth to my pan, and then fill to the brim with my greens. They steam in the hot pan with lid on and then simmer a bit in the broth. The salty broth helps with the bitterness again, and if you make sure to serve the greens in the broth you wont be missing any of the mineral nutrition that might cook into the broth. A splash of olive oil or butter on top makes this a simple and delicious addition to any meal. I bet bacon would make it even tastier.
Happy picking and eating of wonderful, wild greens to you!
( realize my obsession with dandelions is that we just didnt have dandelions in arizona. This is the first spring i've eaten dandelions in at least 5 yrs!)