Dandelion greens from Green String Farm

Earlier this week I went to visit my friend Renata at Green String Farm in Petaluma, California. She is apprenticing under Bob Cannard and learning the Green String Philosophy in practice.
Renata’s move to California, even if just for a short amount of time feels like a little bit of Rhode Island is closer to me now, which is comforting. As always, a visit with Renata is totally inspiring because we talk about what we are doing, what we want to do, and how, perhaps, to get it done! At the end of our visit she filled a brown paper bag haphazardly with an assortment of farm produce including: dandelion greens, beets, chicory, artichokes and citrus. I mention that these items were ‘haphazardly’ thrown together into the bag because sometimes I treat vegetables and produce as very delicate items that cost so much and expire too quickly, thus they should be treated like fine china. However, when you get vegetables right from the farm they will no doubt last at least twice as long than if you got them at the store and they are durable! This of course Renata knows so she just crammed the bag full with fresh farm food! Yum.
How exciting to receive such interesting greens! Both dandelion and chicory I have never bought in the store, however, Tal Ronnen, (The Conscious Cook) says that for a vegan diet raw greens are a good, concentrated source of iron. Taking into consideration Ronnen’s quick suggestions to either serve dandelion greens tossed in a salad or quickly sauteed, I decided to create a raw salad from the chicory and sautee the dandelion greens.
Unfortunately, the bitterness of the sauteed dandelion greens was too much for me to suggest you do the same. But the chicory tossed with balsamic and Cape May NJ honey (thank you to my parents), was delicious– simply delicious.
Since I got off to a rough start trying to prepare the dandelion greens I decided to work with them again to make something less bitter and more varied in flavor. In order to do so I consulted Veganomicon, which suggests making a stir fry using fresh ginger and soy sauce. I also consulted the man behind the prepared foods counter at Whole Foods and asked him how I could reduce the pungent bitterness of the greens. He suggested boiling the greens for about 5-10 minutes and then really wringing them out. Good advice.
While it is true that the longer you boil vegetables the more you loose in terms of nutrients, I think in this case creating a dish that I could finish would be more beneficial than eating half a plate of overwhelmingly bitter greens. Additionally, I am not convinced that every buschel you buy of dandelion greens will be so bitter, these were, afterall, a product of Bob Cannard’s farm.
Day two of cooking the dandelion greens was a success! Without further ado, here is what I came up with:

Seitan & Dandelion Greens Stir Fry:
Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
1 8 oz. pkg. of seitan (WestSoy brand)
1/4 cup soy & ginger sauce (365 brand)
2 handfuls of dandelion greens
1 med.-lg. sized red pepper
sesame seeds
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
2.25 oz. rice noodles

Instructions:
This meal is a variation on the Veganomicon “Easy Stir-Fried Leafy Greens” recipe. That recipe uses fresh ginger, a few kinds of oils for sautee and a few other interesting ingredients. I would use the Veganomicon recipe as a side dish or a basic foundation for creating any kind of stir fry. I decided to add red pepper, seitan and noodles to create a more complete meal and because I love eating foods all mixed together in a bowl!
The first step is to boil your greens. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in about 2 handfuls of the dandelion greens, stems and all! Allow the greens to sit in the water anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how bitter you like your greens.
After your greens are boiled, strain them and give them a few minutes to sit and cool off in the strainer. You can also choose to wring out the greens with tongs.
While the greens are straining, fill your pot up with water to boil again for the rice noodles. I used about a third of a package of noodles called Maifun Rice Sticks, they are very thin noodles. When the water comes to a boil, drop in the rice noodles and let them cook in the boiling water for about 10 minutes. You can put the top on the pot and turn the heat off after you put the noodles in.
Then begin to stir fry your vegetables. Begin by slicing your red pepper into thin slivers. Add about 2 tbsp. of grapeseed oil (or sesame or peanut oil) to your stir fry pan. I suggest using a wok if you have one, they are great!
Keeping the stove on a medium heat let the oil begin to heat up. Then add the greens, the red pepper slivers and the seitan. Next add about a 1/4 cup of soy sauce, or soy ginger sauce, which you can get at Whole Foods or any grocery store I would assume. There is usually an aisle for Eastern foods.
After the rice noodles are finished add them to the stir fry pan. Turn the stove to low heat. All of your vegetables should be cooked through by now. Just take moment to use your tongs to mix everything together and then you are read to serve.
After you have plated your stir fry add just a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top for a finishing touch.

Stir fry is fun! What is YOUR favorite stir-fry combination?

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