Puntarelli


Dandelions can be annoying but if we can see beyond that momentarily seasonal annoyance they really are quite beautiful. They radiate joy, when in full bloom, even on a cloudy day. Remember the fun you had as a kid blowing the seeds into the wind unwittingly planting thousands more.

Thinkin’ now is a good time of year to enjoy the tender new growth of the “dens leonis” (Medieval Latin) which evolved into “dent-de-lion” (French) and late Middle English dandelion meaning “lion’s tooth” because of the jagged shape of the leaves.

But before we head out to forage for our supper one more bit of important trivia. Weeds are excellent indicators of what your soil is missing and rather than pull out the big guns with chemical herbicide, informed use of soil amendments can control them. Mass eradication via chemical application kills the soil and communities of micro-organisms and leaves it as plain old dirt. You’ll be starting all over again to increase your soil health or you’ll be caught in the cycle of weed genocide never really gaining on the problem.

Generally, dandelions are telling you the soil is very low in Calcium, very high in K20 (potassium), high in CL(chlorine), and low in Humus (organic matter). I know, probably more information than you really wanted or needed but if working with Mother Nature with a gentle hand is important to you find an expert who can help you correct the soil imbalances.

In the meantime, take advantage of the bounty – harvest the white shoots, between the root and the dark green leaves. It will do your liver a world of good and delight your palate when prepared as:

Puntarelli

Ingredients:

½ cup bread crumbs

¼ cup parsley

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan or hard pecorino cheese

Salt and Pepper

1 kg. of dandelion shoots

4 tbsp. of best quality olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. chile flakes

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 F

In small bowl mix bread crumbs, parsley and cheese

In large pot of salted boiling water blanch dandelions for 5 minutes

While dandelions are cooking, heat oil, garlic and chile flakes in large sauté pan, take care not to brown the garlic or it becomes bitter

Drain the dandelions and add immediately to sauté pan, toss for a few minutes, then deglaze with vinegar.

Transfer to oven proof serving dish, top with bread crumb/parsley/cheese mixture, bake for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Mara Jernigan, http://goodlifevancouver.com/mara-jernigan-joins-summerhill-winery/

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