The last post gave some ideas about how to accumulate a lot of dandelion greens without much, if any, unwanted effort. Here is one lavish reason why you might want to do that — on top of the tremendous nutrition they offer:
DECADENT DANDELIONS prep time: active 5 min., passive varies from approx. 3-8 hrs
Somewhere between frying and dehydrating, this method renders the leaves free of their characteristic bitterness and as melt-in-your-mouth crispy and decadent as bacon. The residual “grease” is a fabulous emerald-coloured olive oil which can be gathered in a separate bowl for any number of uses, one of the great ones being, just dipping good bread.
The leaves will maintain their crispness for a day or two, depending on climate, and can be stored in or out of the fridge. They are actually not cooked in a conventional sense, and can’t be exposed to moisture when serving (as in, crumbling over pasta), or they’ll instantly revert to tough and bitter.
The following cooking instructions look ridiculously long, but don’t let that deter you as it is arguably the most astonishing recipe in the book. The actual work is almost zero but it’s an unusual cooking method so i’m giving plenty of detail.
Put lots of whole leaves (fresh or frozen) in a heavy skillet. If they’re frozen, handle gently and don’t bother to separate because they’ll shatter easily. Pour in extra virgin olive oil to about one half the depth of the leaves, higher if budget and your regular olive oil consumption support it. The deeper they’re submerged, the sooner they’ll be done. Press down the mass as soon as they soften (but not before that!), to level them out a bit.
Put the skillet over super low heat.
If you have an electric stovetop, the lowest setting may work. If too hot, put a thin ceramic tile or a few finishing nails on the cook surface. You may need to raise the heat slightly if using a tile.
If gas, stack a second trivet on top of the first and keep the flame as low as possible.
If cooking over wood fire, set the skillet on top of a brick set on the regular cooking area, and keep the flame moderate, not roaring.
The cooking can take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours depending on the amount of greens and oil, and the exact super-low heat you are working with. After the first 20 minutes, listen for the tiniest fizzing — almost inaudible. A test drop of water should sizzle just slightly. That is the right temperature.
Check every half hour or so, to be sure the temperature is neither too high, or so low that nothing is happening. If other people consider you very heat tolerant, you should be able to put a fingertip in the oil for a couple seconds without being burned.
It’s okay to gently separate large damp clumps, but NO stirring or flipping at this point.
Eventually, the bottom half of the leaf pile will be felted together, making it easy to flip the whole mass like a pancake in one or two sections. After flipping, delicately separate big clumps with a fork. That’s where the last moisture is hiding.
The greens are done when they are translucent and crispy, which is also when the faint sizzling sound has ceased — all the moisture has sizzled away.
Using two forks, gently lift the leaves from the oil bath and into a bowl. Salting is optional.
Eat with fingers or pile onto slices of perfect baguette.
Save all that deep green oil! It’s a delicious alternative to pale oil for almost any purpose, such as dunking, salad dressing, over pasta with garlic, sautéing.
Laurie Goodhart and her husband co-founded and operated two certified organic artisanal goat fromageries, Nettle Meadow in Warrensburg, NY from 1990 to 2005 and Domaine De Courval in Waterville, Quebec from 2006 to 2017. She created and trademarked the multiple award-winning cheese, Kunik. For more about her how her life experience brought her to develop time-saving ways to eat as much nutrient-dense food from her local environment as possible, see this previous post
Goodhart lives in upstate NY and continues her work as a professional artist and avid home gardener. Since 2007 she has devoted most of her studio time to an extensive body of work collected under the concept, Remnants And Residents Of A Lost Sanctuary Of Aphrodite.
Laurie can be reached through her website, lauriegoodhart.net