On Wednesday I don't have to be at work until 12:30. It's my day to move slowly; I enjoy puttering around the house in the morning, then eating a nice lunch at home before it's time to leave. Usually I go to the gym, but since it was so nice out today (a forecast of 80 degrees, 15 degrees above average) I decided to walk through the neighborhood instead.
After breakfast I put on my shoes, grabbed my MP3 player and phone, and headed outside. Part of my route went by the local elementary school, where I saw one of the maintenance people cutting the grass with a large tractor. As I walked by the freshly-cut grass a strong onion-y smell came my way, and I realized there must have been some wild onions plants mixed in with the grass.
I'd already been mulling over what I was going to have for lunch. The only vegetables we had in the house were broccoli and carrots, which I'd had every day this week. I had no desire to repeat them again today. The smell of the wild onions got me thinking about all the "weed" plants that I've heard are edible, and all of a sudden a light bulb went on. Why couldn't I tap into my yard for something to eat?
We haven't treated our yard chemically for several years (and it shows). Along with the grass, right now there's a motley mixture of clover and broad leaf weeds. I've seen several yellow dandelion flowers, so there had to be plants too. By "harvesting" the dandelion leaves I could kill two birds with one stone; the plants couldn't go to seed and reproduce, and I'd get a nice green leafy side dish.
When I got home I gathered my supplies: a trowel, a measuring cup to hold dandelion leaves, and a plastic flowerpot for everything else that would be going in the compost pile. I started in the back, then moved around the yard looking for the distinctive deeply toothed lance-shaped leaves. Some of the plants had flowers and were easy to see. The ones without blooms weren't, but when I was done I had a cup and a half of packed greens. I also had a flowerpot full of dandelion roots and other weeds I'd removed.
My original plan was to treat the leaves like greens and saute them with some garlic and onion. However, when I saw the tiny leaves I changed my plan. If I were buying them in the store, they'd be called "baby greens" and I'd probably pay a premium price for them. I nibbled on one. It was slightly bitter, like endive, so I decided to have salad for lunch
I "hard boiled" an egg in the microwave and threw it into the refrigerator to chill. Right before lunch I gave the dandelions a coarse chop, along with the egg and some strawberries, then tossed everything with balsamic dressing
The salad was ok, but the bitterness was a bit overwhelming. The strawberries really helped add sweetness. However, after I was done I decided that if the dandelion leaves had been part of a mixture of greens they would work well. I'll have to experiment with this...I certainly have enough dandelions in the yard!