There must be some spring cleaning this week at The Dutch Farmers CSA farm because now I’m getting their weeds in my veggie basket. The farmer smiled when she handed them to me and said “I can’t wait to see what you do with these. They are very healthy, but well…maybe not so tasty”.
That evening I received a text from my CSA friend and our conversation went something like this-
“What is this? It looks like a weed.” (photo of dandelion greens attached).
“It is” I replied.
“Seriously? I just put it in my mouth and it’s the most disgusting thing ever”, she replies.
“Great! Can I have yours for a recipe I’m trying?” I ask.
“Sure, let me fish them outta the trash” 🙂
When I said I had a black thumb and would be unable to feed my family in apocalyptic times (see CSA Junkie), I didn’t realize the weeds I’d been yanking out of my yard were edible. Looks like I can grow something edible after all! A quick internet search will reveal a zillion websites touting their healthy properties. About 2 will give you a recipe. These were their suggestions- Mix into salad! or Saute with olive oil, salt and pepper!
Wow. I couldn’t have managed those two on my own.
If I’m going to feed my in-laws and extended family weeds on Easter Sunday I’m going to have to make it sexier than “mixed into a green salad”. I decide to treat them like chard and separate the stem and the greens. I decide only to use the greens. I have a great recipe for a Corn Strata and corn is naturally sweet which I hope will off-set the bitterness of the dandelion greens. I also add 3 C. of extra-sharp cheddar cheese which pretty much makes anything taste amazing. If you don’t have weeds and can’t find dandelion greens at your store (I’m guessing you may not) I would substitute another green such as kale, spinach or chard and use in this recipe.
I finely chopped the greens so as not to overpower. They added a beautiful look to the strata. Everyone who tried it loved it even my father, Papa Foodie who now has a love-hate relationship with the weed. He loved the strata, but he hates whacking down 4 acres of the weed annually. Maybe we’ll start “harvesting” rather than whacking. If you do decide to eat your own weeds I would only do so if you do not spray on pesticides which I’m pretty sure negates any healthy effect and may in fact kill you.
I feel like this weed has a bad and somewhat misunderstood rap. Those who seek it out do so for health benefits but probably aren’t really enjoying its consumption. It reminds me of one of my daughter’s favorite books about a misunderstood creature who appears ferocious but is really in fact a dandelion-eating Basset Hound with antlers.
“Peering into the light, they didn’t notice the other creatures of the forest, frozen in fear, gazing at the sight below…Retreat! Fall Back! Backpedal! commanded Opus…The Jaws gaped! The monster drew in his lungs for a final, dandelion-filled breath, and then…he sneezed…Dandelions always do dat to basselopes, he said. We really shouldn’t eat dem. But we do love dem so.”
Excerpt from- The Last Basselope” by Berkeley Breathed.
Corn Strata with Dandelion Greens
This is a great brunch, potluck or do-ahead dish to feed a crowd
3 cups frozen white corn, defrosted and drained
Dandelion Greens, I used about 3 oz, very finely diced
5 large green onions, sliced
3 Tbl. butter
8 large eggs
2 Cups 1% milk
6 Shakes of Louisiana Red Hot Sauce
2 tsp. stone-ground mustard
1 1lb loaf of good quality white bread
3 cups of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
Coast a 13×9 dish with butter or non-stick spray. I like to use the wrappers from butter and smear it all over the pan.
In a large saucepan melt 3 Tbl. butter and saute defrosted and drained corn with finely chopped dandelion greens and diced green onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Sautee for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a seperate bowl, beat 8 eggs and add in 2 cups milk, 6 shakes hot sauce, 2 tsp mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
Remove crusts from loaf and arrange on the bottom of prepared dish. Cover with the corn/dandelion green mixture. Add 1.5 cups of grated extra-sharp cheddar (the extra sharp really is better than regular sharp cheddar in this recipe). Cover with half the egg mixture.
Repeat by layering bread on top, covering with 1.5 cups of cheese and covering with the remaining egg mixture. Press down top layer of bread and cheese to ensure egg mixure has soaked top layer.
At this point, I put plastic wrap over and refridgerate up to 3 days prior to baking. If making ahead of time, remove pan from fridge at least one hour prior to baking so that it comes to room temperature.
Pre-heat oven to 350 and bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until browned on top and set in the middle.