My Arkansas-born and bred grandfather loved dandelion greens. The mildly bitter greens have been eaten as food and used as a roots remedy in the U.S. since colonial times - not to mention worldwide, probably as long as humans have consumed greens. As any frustrated lawn warrior will tell you, dandelions grow anywhere and everywhere.
You can eat all parts of the dandelion plant, including the flowers. Health food stores feature fresh dandelion leaves as well as dried dandelion tea. The plant is rich in protein, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, and the vitamins A, B, C, D, and E.
Field peas are staple of soul food and southern cooking. Field peas were brought to the American south by our African forefathers and foremothers and were grown in the corn and rice fields to enrich the soil. Black eye peas, red peas, and other pea varietals can be found fresh or dry. All field peas dry wonderfully, which means they can be enjoyed all year. I love fresh peas, but I also enjoy sourcing different varieties from growers and heirloom cultivators. Since I live in the Northeast I have to get almost all of my peas by mail order, though trips to visit the family in North Carolina means leaving extra space in my luggage.
This hearty, nutritious salad features Sea Island Red Peas from Anson Mills in South Carolina and beautiful dandelion greens from Whole Foods Market, plus walnuts, crispy shallots, red peppers, and a tangy vinaigrette. You can add some grilled chicken or turkey, but my husband loves this salad as-is.
1/2 cup dried Sea Island red peas, OR other small dry field pea, OR one cup fresh, steamed black eye or other field peas
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large bunch organic dandelion greens
1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 roasted red pepper, cut into thin strips (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. If using dried peas, do a quick soak: Rinse the beans well and place in a small sauce pan. Cover with twice as much water as the beans. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat and remove from the burner. Soak the beans for one hour.
2. While the beans are soaking, prepare the shallots. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers and starts to spread across the bottom of the pan, add the shallots. Saute the shallots until they are lightly brown and crispy, for about two minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Rinse and dry the dandelion greens. Roughly chop the leaves and add to a large salad bowl. You can later use the stems in soup, or compost.
4. You can also make the vinaigrette while the beans soak. Whisk together the remaining oil with the apple cider vinegar, mustard, pressed garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.
5. Drain the soaked beans and rinse the saucepan. Return the beans to the pan and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, the lower to a simmer for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse lightly until room temperature. Shake the colander to remove as much water as possible.
6. Add the drained beans, walnuts, shallots, and red peppers to the dandelion greens. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the entire salad and toss lightly.
7. You can serve immediately, but this salad also keeps nicely for a day or two.