It was a combination of events, information and circumstances that caused me to push the limits of what I perceived as edible. What resulted was a dandelion tart.
When Matt and I go to the grocery store it usually works something like this : I head to the produce section and steadily fill my cart with fresh items that I’ve decided have travel the least distance and are most in season. This includes everything from carrots, beets, bell peppers, ginger, always mushrooms, occasionally pineapple and grapes, and often lemons since they are a staple in our cooking. I try to buy organic when considering these items especially and often pick up fresh local greens and other in season veggies from our local co-op. Meanwhile, Matt navigates the aisles picking up dry goods and other ingredients that include several bags of flour, multiple sticks of butter, seltzer (i know, wildcard but we’re hooked) and a few essentials so that when we run out of steam from saying “we can make that” we still have something to eat (think pasta, salsa, etc). We meet in the middle and review our carts, pick up anything overlooked and head to check out.
More than once we’ve received a few strange looks or questions from the cashier about what were planning to do with the abundant veggies. Well obviously, we’re going to eat them, but frequently we don’t have an exact plan. We go the more complicated route of buying fresh things without an exact plan and then challenging ourselves to create one when the opportunity arises. There are only a few advantages to this method, since it is more time intensive, but it causes us to think outside of the box and cook new things.
That was part one.
Last week in the New York times I read a great article about the nutrition content of our food. The illustration spoke volumes, as they stacked up blue corn with it’s current white counterpart, rare crab apples with golden delicious varieties, and wild dandelion greens as the antithesis of iceberg lettuce. Each of the categories presented the most nutrition rich version against the watered down and nutritionally depleted current winner of each category. Basically we have been breeding the nutrition out of our plants, and I would highly suggest reading the article to learn more.
You can see where I’m going here… this was the second factor.
On Monday, after a week of cooking the remainders of or fridge, we hit a new low when I said “I think there’s a granola bar in the car” and proceeded to go get it so I could have a pre-run snack. It was time to go grocery shopping. So we packed up the car, the jogging stroller, Daphne, and drove up to Geneseo to go to Wegmans, stopping first at a trail in Letchworth for a 6 mile run. When we made it to the store, we proceeded with our usual plan – I headed to the fresh section, Matt went to the dry goods. One of the things I love about Wegmans is that you can find about anything there. So I was not exactly surprised when I happened upon a large bunch of dandelion greens in the lettuce section. I had to get them. When Matt and I compared carts I told him about my find and he remarked that they must have read the times article too, followed with a sly “are you sure you don’t want to just pick them ourselves?”
Once at home, I proceeded to look up recipes for my healthy ingredient, and settled on this tart recipe. I hadn’t actually cooked much in the last week so I was itching to get into the kitchen and keep up with my homemaker husband. I started out excited, thinking “I’m so healthy, this is going to be great!” then I doubted myself, wondering what in the world I was doing cooking dandelion greens, and finally was satisfied, both the result of the recipe and my effort in the endeavor. Blanching the greens removes a lot of the bitterness, and you see their transformation in the pictures I included, resulting in a not so intimidating mass of greens somewhat similar to spinach.
So would I suggest you try the recipe? Yes, an hopefully you have an interesting story from the experience to share with us as well.