15 May 2014

We All Like a Little Weed Now and Then

If you can't beat 'em...

Seriously, you won't ever win.  The best thing you can do with dandelions is pull them out by the roots, then eat them.

Cranberry Beans with Dandelion Greens

It's getting close to the end of storage season, but sweet
local carrots can still be found.

1-1/4 c. dried cranberry beans (or dried pinto beans)
1 carrot
1 shallot
1/4 tsp salt
5 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you're a vegetarian, water will do in a pinch but it won't turn out as well)
1 big bowl full of dandelion greens
1 tbsp pork fat (or lamb drippings or olive oil, in case you're a vegetarian)
1 clove garlic julienned  
Don't bother peeling the carrot and shallot, you'll remove
these before eating.
a splash of dry vermouth (or dry white wine)

Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly.

Wash carrot and shallot, leaving the skins on.  Put beans, carrot, and shallot in a large saucepan.  Add salt and stock.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender (approximately 2 hours).  Remove carrot and shallot and continue cooking to desired consistency.
The larger, darker and pointier a dandelion leaf, the more
bitter it will be.  That's great for cooked greens.  Save the
smaller, paler and rounder leaves for eating raw.

While the beans are cooking, wash dandelion greens several times (like 4 or 5 times, soaking in between) in cold salted water.  This is particularly important if you were enthusiastic when weeding, leaving the dandelions covered in soil and detritus like we did...  Pick over carefully, watching out for precocious slugs and other early season pests.  Feel free to be choosy about the leaves, dandelion aren't precious and it's not like you paid for them.  Dry the leaves in a salad spinner or by lightly rolling in clean tea towels.  (Don't forget to reserve any unopened buds for making capers.)

When the beans are very nearly done*, heat pork fat** in a skillet over med-high.  When the fat is good and hot, saute dandelion greens until wilted add the garlic and saute for a minute.  Deglaze with vermouth***.

*Or if you made them a day ahead, reheat when you are ready to cook the dandelion greens.

**The first time Fefe made this dish, she used drippings from a pork roast.  The next time she made it, she tossed the pork fat into the pan then thought it smelled strangely like lamb fat... which it was... sometimes it's hard to keep track of the various jars of drippings in the refrigerator.  The good news is that both work.

***The first time Fefe made this dish, she used vermouth to deglaze the dandelion pan.  The next time, as she was recovering from the shock of the lamb fat incident, she quickly grabbed the vermouth bottle only to discover it was empty.  Luckily, there was some white wine handy.  Luckily further, white wine also does a lovely job in this recipe.

Dandelion leaves will wilt fairly quickly in a hot pan, so wait until the beans are ready before cooking them.

Serve your delicious dandelion greens over the beans as a side for lamb chops or as a hearty lunch with crusty bread. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


Yes indeed, it's dandelion season again.

If you've been reading this blog word for word like I expect you to do (right?), you'll know we've had a slow start to spring.  Here we are in mid-May and this week we woke up to a crust of ice.  Not frost, actual ice.  A thick layer coating the entire surface of the visible world.

The snow shovels are prominently displayed on our front
porch as a charm to ward off further snow.  It didn't work
all winter, so I'm not sure why I think it will work now, but
I feel it will...
No matter, the ground itself has thawed, so it's time to call an abrupt stop to all indoor projects and take advantage of the short northern growing season on this cold Atlantic island.  As not to unnecessarily jinx this reprieve, we can't yet put the snow shovels away.  We've even moved them out to the front porch where the afternoon sun illuminates them: our talisman against rogue late-May snowstorms.

It's time to catch up on the work we didn't do last fall.  Prune the perennials that need pruning before they start growing and prep the garden beds.  Which means weeding.  And, oh, boy, do the weeds ever take advantage of any bit of open space.  

While you're out there madly digging, hoeing, forking or raking the weeds out of your vegetable beds, reserve the dandelion.  Be brutal and get them out by the roots, but put them aside because they're good eating. The earlier you can do this in spring, the more tender and less bitter the dandelion leaves will be.  For this dish, a bit of bitterness works well, so later season dandelion is also suitable.
Seriously, it's like if you turn your head away for a moment,
more dandelions suddenly appear.

If you don't have vegetable plot, I suspect you can find dandelion in your lawn or flower gardens.  No yard?  No worries.  Dandelion can be found pretty much anywhere that soil has been disturbed.  Go for a walk with a trowel and a basket; avoid foraging on roadsides (you don't need any exhaust or road salt in your food) but take advantage of trails and hedgerows or cooperative neighbours.  You may even come across an enthusiastic lawn-owner with a wheel barrow full of dandelion already plucked from the ground.  

Save the smallest, roundest leaves for salad and pesto.  Use the older, darker, pointier leaves as cooked greens (like in this recipe).   The unopened flower buds make excellent capers.  For a plant so universally hated, it's pretty magical.

Even cats like dandelion.  Or do they hate dandelion?  Can't remember.


  1. In the case that I AM a vegetarian I will take heed and not add pork fat to this recipe. I might just add some veggie stock powder and a few grated veggies that will reduce down to mush and add texture and flavour and I might just use coconut oil to add that lovely richness to this scrumptious looking repast of beans and weed. Cheers for the yummy share :)

    1. sounds delicious! Thanks for continuing to read us.

  2. I'm going to try this next year in early spring. Right now our dandelions are all in seed. I will pick them and eat them, that way they won't invade my garden :-)

    1. It's like we're always a bit behind schedule compared to the rest of the continent... but you might be in rhubarb or chive flower season already. Maybe you should be reading our blog about 10 or 11 months behind schedule. :)

      some good rhubarb cocktails: http://moosecurrry.blogspot.ca/2013/06/festival-of-rhubarb.html
      things to do with chive flowers: http://moosecurrry.blogspot.ca/2013/07/five-things-to-do-with-chive-flowers.html


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