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I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Memories Can Grow Like Weeds

Italians do love their bitter greens so much so that they would spend full days in a field somewhere picking them. I know this only because from the time I was a small child my grandmother and great aunts put a little weed puller in my hand and taught me the fine art of dandelion picking. It really didn’t seem like work, it was fun being with them and listening to their stories of the past. The time would fly by and before you knew it we were heading home with bags and bags of dandelions to clean. My grandmother loved to use them for salads but they were also great fried with a little garlic. This particular recipe was created for two reasons the potatoes were a way to stretch the dandelion greens (they have a tendency to cook down to nothing) and the other reason was that the potatoes would mellow out their bitterness.
For some folks dandelions are not a welcoming sight, they are just a nuisance weed ruining their beautiful lawns. For us they are a welcoming sight that stirs up memories of good times spent with loved ones and of the traditional foods that we enjoyed as a family.

Dandelion Greens and Potatoes

12 cups of cleaned dandelion greens
2 cups of diced potatoes
5 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Hot pepper flakes to taste
Salt to taste

Boil greens with potatoes about 5 minutes, drain. Heat oils in a skillet, add garlic and hot pepper. As soon as garlic takes on color, add greens and potatoes, 1 cup of liquid they were boiled in, and salt. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes. Mash with fork and add more oil, if desired.

Photo Courtesy of YellowHammer/Flickr

14 comments:

Fearless Kitchen said...

Woo-hoo! I'm so glad that you posted a dandelion greens recipe. I got a call from a non-Italian friend who was shocked and appalled that the store in her new, heavily Italian neighborhood was selling them. "What are you supposed to do with them?" she asked. I gave her some ideas, now I can point her at this one.

Julie said...

You are very welcome Fearless Kitchen.

Maryann said...

Oh boy, Julie! I love dandelions. When my grandmother was still with us, we used to go to the cemetery on Sunday afternoons to tend to the family's graves..well, that's where we also picked the dandelions! haha yes..it's true. I love them so much in a tossed salad. Your dish is wonderful..I must try it :)

Jilli said...

Yes, we eat some sort of weed everynight for dinner...
"minestra selvatica" or "verdure di campo", as they call it here in Sicily.

http://siciliansimplicity.blogspot.com/search?q=weeds

In the afternoon, we find a piece of open land and go picking...

Julie said...

Jilli, you have some weeds that I have never heard of they are probably more native to the climate of Sicily.

Julie said...

That brings back memories Maryann, I went to the cemetary every weekend with my aunt.

Red Icculus said...

I love dandelion greens. A lot of french cuisine greens are directly related to dandelions which most consider a pest plant.

I remember my grandma dipping the yellow heads in egg, breading them and frying them to deliciousness.

Dandelions are wonderful!

Julie said...

Thank you, Red Icculus I have had the yellow flower heads batter fried they are very good.

chefjp said...

Wonderful post. The best food is always the most simple food.

Julie said...

I couldn't agree more, ChefJP

joe@italyville.com said...

I love dandelions! great post Julie....sounds just like my family. Those old stories are the best aren't they? I've been bugging my uncle to go picking with me.

Julie said...

Thank you, Joe I hope you talk your Uncle into going picking with you.

Gumbeaux Gal said...

Thanks for sharing those memories and the recipe.

My grandma taught me how to pick dandelion greens, too. She's not Italian at all, though. I guess that means you can count us South Louisianians in with the "dandelion-eating set".

Julie said...

Hi Gumbeaux Gal, I think it is more the generation than the ethnicity. You learned to love and appreciate weeds from your grandma and so did I.