Besides the new spring wardrobe, we all look forward to fresh vegetables and greens after a long winter. Here a baked dandelions recipe for using one of the first greens in your diet.
- Fresh Greens, Vegetables, and Fruits Are Seasonal Only
- The First Greens Are Dandelions
- Recycling of Lettuce and Alike in Winter
- Alaska’s Meat and Fish Diet
- Alaska’s Overlooked Food Sources
- How to Prepare the Baked Dandelions Recipe
- Infographic of Baked Dandelions Recipe
- Subsitutes for Dandelion Leaves
Fresh Greens, Vegetables, and Fruits Are Seasonal Only
Fresh vegetables, fruits, roots, and leaves are hard to get your hands on in Alaska except for July to early September at the Farmers Market. Lettuce doesn’t grow well in the Interior. Zucchinis do well when you are lucky that there is no frost in early June. Potatoes do well, as does cabbage, rhubarb (see photo above) and raspberries. When Alaskans grow vegetables in their yards, potatoes and all sorts of cabbage are among the favorites.
The First Greens Are Dandelions
What grows very early after snow-melt are dandelions. Yes, they are among the first blossoms after the long winter. And, yes, they look pretty. But which homeowner wants them in their lawn? However, young dandelion leaves taste really good as a fresh salad. Thus, they are fresh greens with a great taste. At the end of this post, I will share a recipe for a baked dandelion dish. But first, let me explain what’s the deal with fresh greens and vegetables in Alaska.
Recycling of Lettuce and Alike in Winter
The rest of the year, any vegetables, fruits, roots, and leaves are flown in. This means they are expensive. In the middle of winter, a head of butter lettuce costs $2.50. Each day the lettuce gets smaller and smaller as stores remove the outer meanwhile not so nice leaves until the entire lettuce has reached its permanent wilting point or has become so small that there is no chance to sell it anymore. Probably, it then ends up on the store’s salad bar. 😉 Just kidding.
Why do Fairbanksans, buy these lettuces at $2.50 in winter? We are happy to have it at all!
Alaska’s Meat and Fish Diet
What you can eat in abundance in Alaska is meat and fish! There are buffalo and reindeer herds near Delta. Many Alaskans hunt and have moose or caribou. When you are invited to a potluck, most likely a friend killed what you eat.
However, only Alaskan Natives are allowed to sell caribou and moose meat. Thus, you can’t buy it, but you can exchange it for other food. Many Alaskans fish halibut or catch salmon. In August collected morsels, cranberries, and blueberries, and sometimes even quilts or home-made clothes work have a nice trading value too.
Alaska’s Overlooked Food Source
In my opinion, there is another – often overlooked – food, weeds that you can eat. Of course, they have no value to trade them in for one of the other Alaska food resources. Everybody has them in abundance in their own yard.
Full disclosure, there are more dandelions and other edible weeds in our yard than we can eat. 😉
How to Prepare the Baked Dandelions Recipe
Pick a basket full of dandelion leaves. Make sure you don’t have any blossoms in it! Wash the leaves and make sure to take out all grass and other non-edible plant pieces. Cut the dandelions and other edible weeds into half inch stripes. In an oven-safe bowl, combine a cup of low fat (2%) milk, a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 3 eggs, pepper to taste, and 2 table spoons of dried crushed basil. Stir to blend the eggs with the milk. Mix the cut leaves into the mixture until all leaves are equally covered with the egg-milk-herb-cheese-pepper mixture. Note it is easier when you add a handful at a time. Then cover the mixture with some additional Parmesan cheese. Put the dish into the pre-heated oven at 395F (~200oC) and bake for 45 (flat large dish) to 60 minutes (small high dishes like the one in the photos).
Energy saving tip: Bake a bread at the same time.
Infographic of Baked Dandelions Recipe
This baked dandelions recipe will serve four people as a side, or two people when served as the main dish with some home made bread. Red wine is a great pairing.
Subsitutes for Dandelion Leaves
Note that when you can’t get your hands on dandelion leaves, the baked dandelions recipe also works with spinach, kale and/or radish leaves. However, it will miss the slightly bitter taste that you get with dandelions.
Another tip: Dandelions also taste great as a salad with two tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pepper and salt to taste blended as a dressing.
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What is a regional dish from your area? Let me know by email I love to hear from you. Interested in my Rhineland potato salad recipes?
Focus Alaska is a series on lifestyle, events, curiousa, insider travel tips, shopping and street style at the Last Frontier.
Photos of me: G. Kramm
Other photos: N. Mölders
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