Today it’s braised weeds. More specifically Garlic-Braised Dandelion Greens with Pancetta.
I said I was going to bring only foods that I loved for a while and that’s what I am doing. Because I love food and I love eating. It’s an important social aspect in my life, and the food I choose to put in my mouth 3 times a day 7 days a week says a lot about me and my outlook. So I peck away at this keyboard trying to put into words the connections I see between life and the foods we eat. I enjoy sharing the foods that define my attitudes.
But food is not strictly entertainment you know. Our bodies require food in order to thrive. So I feel a responsibility towards you and the foods I present here. After all, we are talking about the health and vitality that allows us to enjoy life to the fullest.
So I am here today to cajole you with every mother’s mantra: EAT YOUR GREENS! Eating greens do not need to be a chore. Eating your greens is dandy. I don’t understand why people resist.
Fortunately “going green” seems to be catching on. I think America’s growing interest in the environment may finally make it cool to eat your greens too. And I am not talking about vegetarianism. Vegetarians choose to forego meat for all kinds of complicated reasons, not all of them are related to health issues. Because as I said the foods we choose to put into our bodies does help define us? It says something about us. That is why I am concentrating on some elemental foods that I love.
For me eating healthy is not about limitations, rules, trends, equations or painful self-denial. It’s about celebrating the bounty of life. One of life’s great bounties is the amazing variety of gorgeous greens that are available to us today. From feathery fern fronds to sprouting bulbs, some with leaves broad and bold or others with their tender grassy spears. They can be plump and ripe or they can be prickly unsightly thistles. Some of these greens are bitter, some sweet, others sour. There are even greens in a rainbow of colors! The abundance of wild and tame greens devoured these days utterly defies enumeration. So it’s not hard to find some way to enjoy eating your greens.
So in order to encourage you to eat your greens, I have a simple and flavorful Garlic-Braised Dandelion Greens with Pancetta. It’s something I tweaked from an Emeril Lagasse recipe. It can be adapted to most any variety of green. Just know that a tender young spinach leaf may only take a couple of minutes to braise, where as kale might take 30 minutes.
- 3 oz sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4‑inch or smaller dice
- 1 c onion, cut into 1/4‑inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1⁄4 t crushed red pepper flakes
- 3⁄4 c chicken broth
- 1 lb fresh young dandelion greens, tough ends trimmed, well washed
- 1 t sugar
- salt, to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally until crispy and all of the fat has been rendered 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper lined plate to drain and set aside.
Reduce the heat to low and allow rendered fat to cool slightly. Add the onions, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and greens then cover the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until greens are wilted. Uncover the pan and add the sugar and salt to taste. Stir to thoroughly combine. Cover the pan and continue to cook until the greens are tender, 5 to 10 minutes longer. The greens may be served warm or at room temperature, garnished with the reserved pancetta.