Dandelion greens for supper
Yesterday, it was sunny, a bit breezy, but warm enough to have the doors and windows open (in spite of the pollen). Today, that warmth and sun is somewhere else, so I needed some sort of cool weather, one-pot meal. (One-pot particularly since I’m right in the midst of a big indexing project, too.) My rapid trip through the local Harris Teeter left me with a lovely big bunch of dandelion greens, and a pair of Sicilian sausages to play with. Add onions, red bell peppers, and a little garlic and it will be supper.
Although the dandelions are blooming (and that’s good–my bees will be here soon) I didn’t go out and forage for the greens. I took the wimpy way out and bought them. But they still taste good.
The dandelion greens from the supermarket are going to be older, tougher leaves than I’d pick were I out foraging. The really young leaves can be used as salad greens, uncooked. These need cooking. Whether cooked or raw, dandelion greens are bitter–in a good way that makes them pair particularly well with the “sweetness” of Sicilian or Italian sausages.
The Sicilian sausage is similar to Italian, but has orange added so it is “brighter” and not quite as “sweet” as Italian, nor as spicy as hot Italian, but the contrast between the sweet spices of the sausage and the bitterness of the greens is lively–certainly not bland. Since these sausages are not hot, I added some hot red pepper flakes when I was seasoning the greens.
The sausages were browned (as described by Nigel Slater in his Real Food:
Very, very slowly and gently in a bit of olive oil. (If you’re cooking for one, at least get some of his books from the library–they’re fun, easy reading, and have some good advice about food, and cooking in general, and one particularly.)
I added two medium onions thinly sliced, a red bell pepper cut into strips, and three large cloves of garlic (chopped), to sweat with the sausages for a bit, and finally, the chopped dandelion greens (with the very bottoms where there was only stem and no leaf removed with a hefty pinch of kosher salt. No extra liquid is required as the onions and peppers will give off some liquid, and the moisture left on the greens after washing is enough for cooking in the covered brasier. The domed lid will accommodate that pile of greens until they wilt down to not much volume like most greens.
Other than a pinch of kosher salt, garlic, and the red pepper flakes, I didn’t add other herbs or spices as I thought the seasoning of the sausages was enough contrast to the bitterness of the greens.
I would really have liked to add some cannellini beans, or other white beans, but since I’m trying low-carbohydrate eating to lose some weight, I just couldn’t do it–though it was tempting, and I love beans. (A small display of will power, here.)
As you can see, there’s no recipe for this–you just use peppers, onions, and greens so that it looks right, keeping in mind that greens do really cook down to less than you expect when you look at them raw. I would have used a smaller amount of vegetables had I been adding the cannellini (or garbanzo) beans to this–or added another sausage.
That second sausage and the rest of the veggies have been popped into a heavy-duty freezer bag, with as much air removed as possible, to await another chilly, rainy day when I need something warming to eat–my version of the TV dinner.
Wine? But of course! Nothing really fancy. Just part of a bottle–my last one unfortunately–one of my favorite “everyday” wines: Chateau d’Oupia Les Heretiques. It’s a blend of old-vine Carignan (90%) and Syrah (10%) that has some bright clean, cherry, plum, and spice that goes nicely with a lot of my casual cooking–even just a burger, or just sipping without food. It’s also in the price range to make it “everyday”. It’s time to go to the Wine Cellar at Sutton Station and get some more of this.