Dandelion! Oh Dandelion! We love you so! But whatever will we do with you? According to the Real Food Encyclopedia, “Raw dandelion greens have a lot of Vitamin K, necessary for blood coagulation and bone health. The greens are also a great source of Vitamins A and C, and a decent source of iron, calcium, Vitamin E, potassium and manganese. The leaves even have a little bit of protein.” But this backyard buddy can be bitter and somewhat of a culinary mystery.
At a recent market event, we decided to dive into dandelion, thanks to a hearty donation of greens from Arkansas Natural Produce (ANP). The ANP greens are quite different from the backyard variety, much larger and milder, but still full of dandy dandelion goodness! But we couldn’t stop at one green because there’s too many yummy varieties available – we added some baby kale and spinach salads to the mix. And of course there were the apples from Drewry Farm & Orchard that we threw in as well! For our culinary-inclined readers and those of you that joined us at the event and are craving those recipes, here are the foods we shared:
#1 — A delightful smoothie of: 1 cup watercress; 1 cup dandelion greens; 2 cups strawberries; 1 cup pineapple chunks; 2 sprigs basil; 2 dates (pits removed); and 3 cups water. This smoothie was unbelievably refreshing, and formulated for healthy joints! The recipe was found in Green Smoothie Prescription. Don’t quote me, but I believe we added a bit of local mint to ours – we couldn’t resist.
#2 — Super juice made from dandelion, apple and ginger also served as a refreshing treat for members to sample.
#3 — Dandelion salad, recipe found HERE – This one was a definitive hit!
#4 – Easy Baby Kale Quinoa Salad – The baby red Russian kale offered at the market is a bag of very young, tender kale. Make a pot of quinoa, let it cool, and throw it a bowl. Add a mix of chopped baby kale, green onions, parsley. (These greens serve as the base of the salad.) From here you can go anywhere – depending what’s in the kitchen (or on the market)! The salad pictured below added orange bell, chopped kalamata olives, and feta. The feta and kalamata or black olives become central to this style of quinoa kale salad by adding the salty flavor. To dress the salad, sprinkle salt and pepper and then drizzle olive oil and white wine vinegar directly over the top. Go light first, and add to taste. This salad will keep in the fridge for a number of days and serves as a good go-to salad snack! Tip: If you can’t get ahold of ANP super young baby kale leaves, use any kale leaves. Chop bigger/older leaves finely, dress early and allow leaves to marinate 30min-1hr before serving.
#5 – Easy Baby Kale Fruit/Nut Salad – Chop baby kale, add parsley and mint. Cube an apple. A one ribbon cut or shredded carrot. Add one handful of dried cranberries. Throw in a handful of slivered almonds. Dress with a citrus vinaigrette – basic recipe found HERE. This version was built around availability of Drewry Farm apples, but the same salad can be built around strawberries, blueberries, or oranges. Vary the type of fruit and nut utilized to experiment with flavor combos.
#6 – Last – But Definitely not least – Sesame Soy Spinach Salad – This salad is built around the dressing – Recipe found HERE! Important note: Try rice vinegar instead of white vinegar (much milder) and use local honey and maybe even a bit of brown sugar (deeper flavor than white sugar) to sweeten. The salad we sampled was a bed of spinach with orange bell pepper and toasted sesame seeds. Recommended variations can include red bell, cucumber, and crushed peanuts. Or try oranges and chopped roasted almonds. Dress and serve immediately (This one won’t keep overnight!) If you don’t already stock the staple ingredients for a basic sesame soy dressing in your kitchen – please do. This dressing can drive a salad, a noodle dish, grilled chicken, or even a cucumber-peanut salad! If you really want to “go nuts” about this dressing – add peanut butter and a bit of water , and Voila! You’ve got peanut sauce.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this recap of the tasty samples we served at our January market event. Check us out to get these greens and so much more!