Why and how you can supplement your weekly produce with dandelion greens. These tips also work great for any very flavorful green, like mustard greens or carrot tops!
Disclaimer: If you or someone else has used weed killer on your yard, don’t eat the dandelions. Don’t grow anything in your yard with that soil period. I wouldn’t even touch that yard with my skin. Weed killer is poison and while it won’t kill you it will build up in your system and hurt you. It kills dandelions, not you, because you are larger. That’s why small dogs can’t walk on treated laws without getting sick and possibly dying. Don’t eat poison and furthermore, don’t use weed killer on your yard.
The timing was perfect. One night, I was sitting enjoying an entire head of sauteed kale with salt and pepper, and lamenting that I didn’t have enough money to eat like that every single night. 10 hours later I was filling up buckets of “weeds” in the backyard, hands covered in mud and bits of green flying everywhere. As I pulled up a particularly large dandelion, I looked at the leaves and remembered…
“Hey, I can eat this.”
Unbeknownst to most, dandelions are an invasive species in North/South America. These flowers, treasured by children and hated by modern day adults, were so valued by the puritans that they were transported from the Old World to The New. Dandelions have a extensive and valorous history, creating everything from dandelion wine and coffee (yes, dandelion coffee is a thing) to remedies for fevers, boils, eye problems, liver congestion, heartburn and appendicitis. Dandelions are especially good for lowering blood sugar and are currently being investigated as a cure for cancer. Every part of the dandelion can be eaten, from the flower to the leaves and the roots.
The nutrition of a dandelions, specifically their greens, are second to none in the plant kingdom. If you think spinach or kale is king, think again, because dandelions have more protein than spinach and more calcium than kale. This combined with a complete amino acid profile 186% of your daily recommended amount (RDA) of vitamin A, and roughly 11% RDA of vitamins B1, B2, and B6 per cup, makes you wonder why they aren’t eaten on the regular by vegans and non vegans alike.
Well I can tell you why. They taste horrible. The bitterness of dandelion leaves is twice that of mustard greens and kale combined. I’ve tried these with every salad dressing known to man, and I’ve tried sauteing them with everything to no effect. I can eat kale raw, and I just can’t touch these things even with vegan ranch all over!
Thus, how can you make use of and eat all of these free and healthy dandelion greens? I’ve been experimenting all week, and here are my two favorite techniques and the recipes that go along with them.
Note: These recipes work great for all sorts of “trash” greens, such as carrot tops and mustard greens.
Uttapam (bake it in something)
Uttapam is a dosa (see last week’s post) cooked like a thick pancake with vegetables inside. A typical Indian breakfast, these taste great and disguise even the bitterest of greens! There are tons of recipes out there, like this delicious recipe from Rak’s Kitchen!
Black Eyed Peas, Greens, and lentil stew (spice the shit out of ‘em)
This recipe is easy, cheap, delicious, and Jesse and I did not taste the dandelion or carrot tops in them at all! That being said, anyone have photography tips for stews? This week’s recipe.
This Week in Updates: Life is starting!
It’s kind of crazy how fast things go, but how exciting it is too. Orientation at Portland State went great, with Jesse and I even more excited about my degree in Urban Design. Jesse was the only spouse to attend, earning him major brownie points. It was wonderful to be able to share with him what I will be doing and give him a taste as to what he will be hearing about for the rest of our lives. 🙂 It’s also make up drill and normal drill for me, so that is 5 days (an actual full work week) of air guard. Having a uniform makes me slightly more official. I can now do things like walk around without an escort. Yay! Budgeting for groceries is going a little better as well. Having extra lentil and black eyed pea stew, and all the free greens from the yard, really put me in a good position for next week. I will be able to purchase a few bigger items, like the organic sugar at the co-op and maybe even some fruit! Physically I feel good too. The muscles are getting bigger, slowly but surely!
The Recipe: Black Eyed Peas, Lentil, and Greens Stew
So I have been working on the Indian cooking for awhile, and I think I have the essential elements down. Curry leaves? Not necessary. Shredded coconut? Not necessary. Asafetida or hing powder? Totally necessary. The cilantro is not necessary either, but it helps. All told, the lentils were $2, black eyed peas (you can substitute pintos if they are cheaper) were $2, greens (free if you use dandelions and carrot tops!), onion $1, cilantro $2, and spices $2. That's $9 for 10 servings, or $12 if you actually purchase the greens.
- 1 cup dried black eyed peas
- 2 cups red lentils
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2 tsp tamarind paste
- 4 cups chopped greens
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 2 tbs curry
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbs cooking oil
- One pinch asafetida or hing powder
- Cook the black eyed peas how and whenever you like. Drain.
- For the lentils, boil 3 cups of water and add the lentils and 1 tsp of the tumeric. Cover and simmer until cooked through, about 25 minutes. The lentils should start to dissolve until they get mushy, giving you a soft and creamy dal. If the dal gets too thick, add more water.
- While the lentils are cooking, put the oil in a saucepan and one mustard seed. Cover. When you hear a pop, the oil is hot enough to cook all the mustard seeds. Add the rest and cover, so that the popping mustard seeds do not fly everywhere.
- Once the popping subsides, add the hing and the onion. Saute until the onion is translucent.
- Back at the lentils, once the lentils are cooked add the black eyed peas, greens, and the rest of the spices. Salt to taste and simmer until the greens are the desired consistency.
- Add the onions and mustard seeds. Top with cilantro and enjoy!