There are many "green" reasons for eating seasonally and buying locally but on top of all that, it's simply a fun way to eat. It's exciting to have the first asparagus or strawberries of the year, and I tend to eat as much as I can of the things I love since I know the seasons are short. This spring, I've been eating a lot of dandelion greens.
I didn't grow up eating these greens. The first time I had them was in a trattoria in Rome and I fell in love with them, so I was excited when I began seeing them for sale at the Farmer's Market here in NC. These are not wild greens - I haven't tried those but there are plenty in my yard if I get brave. I've read that the wild ones are even more bitter than the cultivated ones (which are pretty bitter themselves).
The key to mellowing them out is to blanch first, drain, and then stir fry. Every time I buy these greens at the market, someone sees me doing it and asks me how to cook them - they are exotic here in NC, I guess, but not in Italy. I use a recipe I found via google (see below).
(from Gourmet magazine, March 2003)
In Rome, this is a typical way of preparing bitter greens.
2 lb dandelion greens, tough stems removed and leaves cut crosswise into
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cook greens in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until ribs are
tender, 4 to 5 minutes, then drain in a colander. Rinse under cold water to
stop cooking and drain well, gently pressing out excess water.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not
smoking, then cook garlic, stirring, until pale golden, about 30 seconds.
Increase heat to moderately high, then add greens, red pepper flakes, and
salt and sauté, stirring, until liquid greens give off is evaporated, about
Makes 4 side-dish servings.
I took the recipe above and turned it into a pasta dish. I added some lemon zest to the greens, cooked some spaghetti and then after I drained it, mixed it into the greens and let them meld for a few minutes over low heat. Some parmegiano reggiano and toasted pine nuts on top, and I had a great dinner.