Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bitter Greens

We've been having trouble figuring out what to do with the dandelion greens, and we had two weeks' worth in the fridge yesterday.

I gave my housemate Jack half a leaf and asked if they were too bitter to put in a salad. Yes, he said, giving me half of half the leaf back. (Mind you, this is a man who has let me put lemon curd on popcorn and who thinks tomato-and-basil ice cream is a good idea.)

So I went looking for ways to cook them. Epicurious does them sauteed and spicy and sauteed. The New York Times suggested Provencal Greens Soup.

But because I always trust Mark Bittman, and because it was good weather for comfort food, and because there were potatoes in this week's box, I decided on Green Mashed Potatoes (article, recipe). I had seen this recipe when it was first published in the spring and made it then with kale; I'd forgotten it actually called for dandelion greens.

Mark said to boil the greens for one minute. I did, tasted, and found them ... bitter. I boiled them for five minutes ... bitter. I boiled them for ten minutes, while running to consult my cookbooks and the Internet on whether longer boiling could reduce bitterness.

By then, all I could taste was bitter. I borrowed my housemate Erica's taste buds. Bitter, she pronounced. Would you eat it mixed with mashed potatoes? No.

So I chickened out and added a few big handfuls of this week's mixed salad greens (speed-wilted in the microwave) to the potatoes instead. (I also went off-recipe and grated some Parmesan over the top.) Delicious.

I did go back to the Internet afterwards; there are a lot of enthusiastic dandelion eaters out there, including many who claim the greens are hardly bitter at all. This piece on making dandelions palatable seemed the most promising in terms of admitting that dandelions are, in fact bitter, and providing several strategies for masking that bitterness.

As for our dandelion greens ... they're in the fridge, boiled to death. Any suggestions for what to do with them?

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