Friday, April 13, 2012

Eating Your Yard – April 13, 2012

We planted our garden early this year.  It is so unseasonably warm, we just couldn’t help ourselves.  We are growing peas, lettuce, broccoli, okra, tomatoes and herbs, but it will be weeks before there is anything from either garden to eat.  There are, however, things in most of our yards that can be eaten as well.  I recently learned you can cook daylilies just like squash blossoms and pansies and violets have no taste but are pretty in a salad or used to decorate a goat cheese.  But, if you are really hungry, most weeds can be eaten as well.  I find this interesting, but don’t see a reason to eat my yard most days.  I did make an exception this week though for dandelion. 

Mostly, my experience with dandelion is trying to dig them out of my flower beds, but they are actually a very edible plant.  In fact, every part of a dandelion can be eaten in some way.  It would take a lot of harvesting to gather enough, but dandelion root can be eaten in stir fry and dandelion flowers are boiled to make dandelion wine.  But the easiest part to use is the green.  The dandelion greens can be cooked just like kale, turnip, spinach or any other green.  I have read that this is the time to gather the greens (before the flowers bloom).  I picked a few from my yard and added to other store bought greens to make a great wilted salad.  This recipe was adapted by Mark Williams, the Brown-Forman Chef, from an old Shaker cookbook:

Wilted Dandeline Greens

4 cups dandelion or other greens
4 slices bacon
½ c. apple cider vinegar
2 T. sugar
¼ c. water
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 T. chopped onion or shallot
4 hard boiled eggs

Carefully pick, clean and chop the greens.  Fry the bacon in a skillet and reserve the fat.  Add vinegar, sugar, water, salt and pepper to fat and heat until well blended.  Remove from heat and toss in greens and onion, mixing well.  Serve garnished with crumbled bacon and chopped eggs.  

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