Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Herbal Sauté

Herbal Sauté

A beautiful spring-like day, although it's still just the first week of March. My lawn, however, is brown, dead-wintry grass...except for my dandelions, ground ivy, and henbit.

So, let's harvest some of my wild herbs and make a healthy, tasty, unique lunch!

First, I scout my available resources. Here's a small, but healthy patch of young dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).

A young dandelion plant will be less bitter than it would be when it begins to flower and go to seed. The flowers, though, are not at all bitter, and they offer just about as much nutrition. I did find one bright yellow flower to add to my lunch, and one unopened flower bud. The flower buds are actually my favorite...they have a texture that reminds me of a bit of meat.

Here's some ground ivy, creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea). It's very young, tender, with just a very slight minty taste.

Amongst the creeping Charlie, henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) is starting to reach out for the sun. Henbit is also slightly minty, with a purplish, square-shaped stem. It grows quickly, and I harvest the little bit that I can find before it gets older and less tender.

Okay, grab a pan and pick some tender dandelion leaves, creeping Charlie, and henbit. Rinse it in cold water and get ready to cook it.

You can see my one, lonely dandelion bloom, and just to the left of it is the one unopened flower bud that I found. This is a view of my freshly rinsed bunch of dandelion, creeping Charlie, and henbit.

While my skillet heats up I will gather some of the seasonings and condiments I'd like to try.

Garlic powder, onion powder are almost obligatory, as is ordinary salt and pepper. I'll sauté the herbs in olive oil, and I think the balsamic vinegar will add a nice highlight.

The skillet's heated to a medium heat and I've added my herbal mix. I immediately cover the skillet, letting the wet herbs steam for about two minutes.

After about two minutes, I take off the lid and stir the herbs several times as it cooked down. I don't want to burn the leaves, but I do want them tender, without being mushy.

It's ready! I present my lunch on our new dinnerware, accompanied by carrots and seedless red grapes.

Before sprinkling with the vinegar, I taste the sautéed herbs with just the salt, pepper, onion, and garlic.

It's good, and I could eat the rest that way and be satisfied. But, adding the balsamic vinegar is a real treat. It's tangy, contrasting well with just a slight bit of dandelion bitterness.

A very good lunch!

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