Dandelions with Wild Garlic for Dinner

Dandelion greens, field garlic and spicy mustard chicken

Dandelion greens, field garlic and spicy mustard chicken

Today I got my Green Dean’s Eat the Weeds Newsletter, and it inspired me to… eat the weeds!  🙂

Washing dandelion greens

Washing dandelion greens

What’s most plentiful in my yard right now are dandelions and field garlic.  So that’s what I harvested.

Right now the dandelion leaves are small with only a slight, pleasant bitterness to them.  They would be great in salads at this stage.  Later they will be very bitter and will require parboiling twice to make them good.

Field garlic bulbs

Field garlic bulbs

Dandelion greens can pick up a lot of pine straw and trash.  The best way to wash them is to cut them free from the base, then float them in a large bowl of water.  That way you can pick out the pine straw and stray plant matter, and much of the trash sinks to the bottom of the bowl.

The field garlic bulbs clean easily with a spray of water to wash the mud off them.  Then you use the little pearly bulbs.  The green leaves are too fibrous to eat.

Field garlic bulbs ready to cook

Field garlic bulbs ready to cook

I sautéed the garlic bulbs in grapeseed oil because I was out of olive oil until they were translucent and just starting to brown.  Then I added what looked like a massive amount of dandelion leaves, which quickly cooked down to a fraction of their size.  Then all I added was salt and a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes.

I topped them with leftover chicken breast chunks, tossed with spicy brown mustard, splenda and lemon juice.

The dandelion greens cooked up sweet, without a hint of bitterness, and a little chewy.

Not bad for an almost free meal!

 

 

More on Cold Weather Wild Edibles

Field garlic

Field garlic

I still haven’t finished cleaning the Casita.  I keep finding more interesting projects to play with!

Today I thought it would be fun to show you how to use field garlic.  Wild garlic is better than field garlic, but field garlic is what grows here.

Field garlic looks a lot like a clump of grass, except that its leaves are round.  Once you know what to look for, you can spot it easily at a distance.  And if you have a country yard, like we do, you might have it growing in your lawn.  If you’ve ever mowed the lawn and smelled garlic afterwards, that’s field garlic.

Field garlic bulbs

Field garlic bulbs

It’s a cool weather plant.  It goes dormant in the heat of summer.  But if you know where it grows, you can dig for it in summer and easily spot the bulbs.  There’s no mistaking them for anything else.  If it smells like garlic, it is garlic!

The bulbs are small and are not separated into cloves like the garlic you buy at the store. They look more like small green onions.  Field garlic is pungent so use it sparingly.

Field garlic washed and ready to prepare

Field garlic washed and ready to prepare

The green tops of field garlic are essentially inedible.  If you try to cook with them, they will turn your cooking liquid a dark, ugly green.  And they are so tough that you can’t chew them.  If you try, you will end of with a wad of cellulose in your mouth.

However, if you slice the tops very thinly, you can use them very sparingly to add flavor and color to a recipe like a rice dish.  The key is very sparingly!

Field garlic ready to cook with

Field garlic ready to cook with

I usually slice the bulbs thinly, saute them slowly in olive oil, and build my recipe from there.

I also found sheep sorrel today.  Its arrowhead shaped leaves have a pleasant, tart vinegar flavor.  It’s especially good in rice dishes and will perk up other bland foods.  It also is a good in soups and dips.

Sheep sorrel.  Think small when you search for this plant.  If you look for a big plant you will miss it.  Note the arrowhead shaped leaves.

Sheep sorrel. Think small when you search for this plant. If you look for a big plant you will miss it. Note the arrowhead shaped leaves.

I don’t give recipes because I am one of those cooks who makes everything up as I go along with a handful of this, a sprinkling of this, and a pinch of that, based on what I have to work with and my mood.  It’s tremendous fun and usually turns out interesting and good.  But once in a while I do end up with a colossal disaster.  I don’t have the patience to go back and analyze and measure what I do, though.

I also wanted to tell you about wood sorrel today, but it appears last night’s cold has done it in.  So I’m posting a picture of chickweed that I took the other day that shows wood sorrel leaves in the center.

Wood sorrel has three leaflets and looks a little bit like clover.  It has a tart lemony taste that is good anywhere a touch of lemony brightness would be good.  I like it best in salads or chopped small and served as a garnish over a rich soup.  It’s also good with fish dishes.

Lemony-tasting wood sorrel leaves growing in chickweed.  Click to enlarge the photo.

Lemony-tasting wood sorrel leaves growing in chickweed. Click to enlarge the photo.

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