Yes, dandelion, the pesky weed in your lawns. My friend once told me that her parents, back in the days, used to pull over in the middle of the highway and harvest dandelions from the roadside, which was a choice green back home in Istria. I am reminded of this story every time I encounter a healthy, luscious bunch of dandelions from the farmer’s market.
Here is an interesting treatment, with unexpectedly sumptuous results, that may help you embrace this nutrition-dense, bitter green. Enjoy!
- Lentils: 1/2 cup vatana (or garbanzo) soaked for at least 2 hrs + 1/2 cup tur dal
- 1 bunch of dandelion greens + 1 green jalapeno
- Veggies: 2-3 medium potatoes
- Allium: 3-4 cloves of garlic
- Aromatics: 2 tsp of your favorite (Indian) spice-mix (like curry powder)
- Acid: 1 tbsp vinegar
- Baghar/Tempering: 1 tbsp ELOO + 2 tsps mustard seeds + 1 red dried chillies, hand-torn into small pieces + 2 stalks of curry leaves
- salt to taste
Pressure cook the vatana+tur lentils with the garlic and chopped vegetables + salt to taste, till tender. Process the dandelions leaves and stems and the green jalapeno pepper (not blend!) till broken down into tiny pieces, but not any more (i.e., not blended into a paste).
Extended baghar: Heat oil and mustard seeds till the seeds begin to sputter. Add the curry leaves and chillies. After 30 seconds or so, add the spice-mix and make sure it does not burn. Then add the processed greens + vinegar and saute for a minute or so. Season with salt to taste.
Mix the dal and the baghar. Serve hot.
Notes, hints, tips:
- ELOO = Extra Light Olive Oil.
- You may also check https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dandelion-health-benefits/.
- The “AAA” principle (Allium, Aromatics, Acid) is a good rule of thumb to build the flavor base for lentils, meat, vegetables or any combination thereof.
- Cooking the garlic along with the staple reduces its intensity but provides the oomph.
- I heat the oil along with the seeds, so that it does not need babying and you can afford to be distracted with other tasks and the sputtering of the seeds acts as a natural timer the beckons you back to the stove. Don’t stray too far away though.
- Use you favorite spice-mix, be it quatre épices or Madras curry or vadouvan or Berbere or simply mirepoix. Change the tempering spices accordingly- here I have a very Indian take with whole mustard seeds, curry leaves.
When I travel to India, I bring back a variety of high quality spice-mixes (trying to cover the expanse of the country, like a Kashmiri Rogan Josh, a Rajasthani bharwan, or Goan Xacuti, ….). India offers a fascinating array of not just spices, but also spice-mixes, tried and tested over generations.
- Dandelion Garbanzo pancake/waffle: Here is another addictive (believe me!) dandelion-legume treatment. See pictures below. It could be prettied up a bit, but who has the patience 😉
Soak 2 cups garbanzo beans for 4-6 hrs (or, until it meets the bite-test). Drain.
Pulse in a processor till a coarse paste: garbanzo + 1 bunch dandelions, stems and leaves + 2-3 scapes (or other alliums) + 1/4 cup EVOO + a few green chilies + 1 tsp whole cumin seeds (optional) + 1 1/2 tsp baking soda + salt to taste.
Mix in chopped onions and shishito peppers. Use 1/2 cup measure to scoop each pancake out. Flatten and cook for 4 mins on each side on a non-stick pan. No extra oil is necessary.