It’s roasting hot in the valley now, so we’ve started going up to Monte whenever we can. Poor little Roxy had her sterlization operation last Tuesday, so last weekend there were no big walks to be had. Instead, we wandered up the track behind our place towards Piero’s. If the boom gate is open, we know Piero is in, so we take detours through the woods so as not to disturb. But when he’s not in, we follow the track all the way up to his place, cross in front, and then Roxy races down the other side like a mad thing high on velocity. Like she’s skiing, weeeeeee! All dog-grin and helicopter tail to the bottom of the slope.
But the other day, we paused at the top. I’m new to hunting and gathering, so I wasn’t sure if the fresh green shoots were the dandelion leaves that people gather in spring. It’s not spring, after all: it’s early summer. But the leaves looked too edible to not be. It looked like the whole hillside was covered with salad. I picked one and ate a tip. No weird instantaneous reaction. I picked some more, and took them back to The General. He’s never been a Gatherer of dandelion, even though he’s lived here all his life. Nor mushrooms. Walnuts and hazelnuts, yes. And since embracing Paleo, he hunts around and finds us farmers who share their eggs, beef and lamb with us. But the green leaves? Not sure.
What the heck, no harm in trying. We cooked them up with some Cavolo Nero, or Black Tuscan Cabbage, to see what might happen. Nothing happened. Well, just a little gas, but nothing to write home about. And having had just read this article about Kale, of which Cavolo Nero is a cultivar, we couldn’t be sure what caused those intimate rumblings. So given that there were no severe side-effects – and because we love bitter leafy greens – and because of the treat of having a whole hillside sprouting salad – the following day I took a plastic bag and a pair of scissors and picked a whole bunch.
I don’t habitually use oil for cooking, but because I wasn’t quite sure what I was dealing with here, I sauteed an onion and a fat garlic clove in olive oil, and then added the chopped greens, tossing them until well wilted. Field vegetables don’t just melt in your mouth like shop-bought, green-house-grown varieties. Even though the leaves were tender, these stimulated good digestion through the necessary chewing. Dark, sultry greens promise nutrient density. As well as being rich in beta-carotene and Vit C, these pack more calcium and iron than spinach. Potently enhanced with through the garlic and onion. We were well satisfied.
- A big heaping of new dandelion leaves
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 onion
- 2 tbsp olive oil, + more for dressing
- Chop the onion finely and mince the garlic.
- Heat the olive oil in a fry pan, and sautee the onion and garlic over a low heat, taking care not to burn the garlic.
- Add the dandelion leaves in handfuls, tossing them continuously until well wilted.
- Serve with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a grind of sea-salt.