Dandelion greens

Dandelion & sorrel pesto for spring.

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esto is one of the best condiments to have around the house. I love to toss it into something; scrambled eggs, pastas, salads, sandwiches, smeared onto toasted pita, etc. One of the better things I decided to do with this was add it into my favorite vegan lasagna recipe. This lasagna is so good, I honestly prefer it over regular lasagna. This pesto is definitely best used in recipes with pesto as the focus. It is such a special spring-time pesto that you don't want it to get over-looked. 

 

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 * Also! There is a give-a-way. I was fortunate enough to have been gifted the lovely and inspirational The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook from my sweet Aunt. She sent it to me thinking that I would enjoy it. Of course, she was right, I love the cook book but I had already purchased it for myself! I was swayed after seeing Heidi Swanson's post and was anticipating it's release. My favorite recipe in here is the edamame dumplings. Ridiculously good, they are steamed in a broth scented with lemongrass. I really like to curl up in bed with a good book... a number of those being cookbooks. Seriously, there are almost as many cookbook on my bed side table as in my kitchen. So now this beautiful book can be passed onto you dears. To enter just leave a comment about what your favorite pesto is or what your favorite way to eat pesto is. I'll pick the winner on Monday 5/6 and then ask you for your address so I can mail you this lovely book.

 

Pesto ( Makes about a scant 3 cups)

1 bunch sorrel - coarsely chopped

1 bunch dandelion - coarsely chopped

Red onion - 1/4 a red onion - chopped

emon - juice of 1 lemon

arlic - 4 cloves, chopped

Sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup

Salt/pepper- to taste

Heat up a medium pot of water to boiling. nce it is boiling toss in your dandelion greens and cook for about 2-3 minutes and then strain out. In a blender or food processor add all you ingredients, make sure the dandelion has drained well before adding it. Process until the pesto is smooth. Store in an airtight container the the refrigerator. Good for about 2 weeks.  I highly recommend that you make this vegan lasagna with it. 

Vegan, spring, pesto lasagna. Layers of creamy filling, tomato sauce, arugula, & noodles.

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I made this lasagna once, over a year ago, and haven't made a lasagna since. I like pasta dishes but I really don't make them often. Occasionally, I'll get the urge (if I have time) to make some homemade pasta dough but that is a once-a-year thing if at all. There was the time last year where I took home 90 free eggs from work. Ok... what do you do with 90 free eggs? After half a day of kitchen time I stocked our freezer with loads of homemade ravioli (3 kinds..mushroom, arugula ricotta, and butternut squash) and mini quiches. It was insane but I used up a lot of the eggs that way. Bad part was, we still had some mini quiches in the freezer when we lost power for 4 days in a snow storm. To try and save the quiches, I buried them outside into the snow where they were devoured by wild animals. At least somebody enjoyed them, right?

Anyways, lasagna. I really like this lasagna from a recipe in a cookbook called The Big Vegan. It's funny, this cookbook really isn't my typical style but there are some really great ideas and recipes in here. The following recipe is an adaptation of the recipe in the book. I felt like making lasagna because I had about 3 cups of this homemade dandelion & sorrel pesto to play around with. I didn't want to overwhelm this yummy pesto with a bunch of dairy, so I turned to this tried and true vegan lasagna. This lasagna is so good, really. I'd bet that you could fool people. Give them a piece of this lasagna and they will have no idea that it is vegan unless you tell them.

* Also! There is a give-a-way. I'm not really use to how give-a-ways work, honestly, I'm not up on my blog etiquette. The reason I am doing it, other than I love you of course, is that by fate I have two of the same cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen. The give-a-way is being held on the sister post to this one, the pesto post, which can be found here

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Recipe (I made it in a oval, 9" casserole dish and it was filled to the brim)

Filling recipe 

Vegan pesto of your choice - 16oz (here is the dandelion/sorrel pesto recipe)

Tofu - 1 packet of soft tofu (14oz) 

Artichoke hearts - 1 can, drained

Nutritional yeast - 2TB

Miso - 2TB

Olive oil - 1Tb

Salt- a pinch

 Tomato sauce recipe

Can of tomatoes (I used whole, peeled) - 14oz, drained half-way

Onion - 1.5 cups, chopped

Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped

Basil - 3Tb, fresh, slivered

Fennel seeds - 1tsp

Oregano - 1.5tsp dried, or 1tsp, fresh

Salt/pepper - to taste

Other layers

Packet of vegan whole wheat lasagna noodles (or spinach) 

Arugula - a few handfuls

(optional) Almond meal or pine nuts - to top

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Preheat you oven to 400 degrees about 15 minutes before you are ready to bake. Place all your filling ingredients together in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Dump out filling into a bowl and clean the blender, you will need it again. Put a medium pot of water with a pinch of salt over high heat and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling you will add you lasagna noodles and simmer for about 7 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse with cool water. Meanwhile, chop up your onion and garlic. Heat up a deep skillet with 1Tb olive oil and then add the garlic. Cook for a minute and then add in the onions. Cook for a few minutes until soft. Add in the can of tomatoes and all your spices. Cook for a few minutes until bubbling and soft. Taste and adjust salt/pepper. Transfer into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. 

Get out your casserole dish. Layer about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Then lay down a layer of noodles, top with about 1.5 cups of filling, and then a handful of arugula. Then noodles, tomato sauce, filling, arugula. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, adjusting as needed, ending with the last of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the top with almond meal or pine nuts if desired. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes, if you can wait, because the filling will be very hot. 

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Chickpea & dandelion green sauté + apples & parmesan.

Dandelion greens.

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Dandelion greens are one of the most basic foods you can forage for yourself, it is a great starter foraging plant. You probably won't have to search any further than your front yard. They are very healthful and tasty if you are a bitter greens kind of human. I am. I love bitter greens. I cannot get enough of them really. Winter for me is roots and bitter greens (since I have been spoiled by good winter-long seasons of fresh greens in ungodly warm Georgia) but spring also means greens, along with lots of other tasty veggie morsels like asparagus. Oh yes, asparagus pizza will make an appearance here soon. Dandelion greens are a good source of vitamins A, K, & C, calcium and a great food to support digestion. I'm also a liberal user of lemon. Lemon makes so many dishes pop, especially ones involving sautéing greens. Lemon and greens were meant for each other like Topanga and Cory.

Speaking of Topanga and Cory, I've been having reunions with TV shows that I loved as a kid. I was a huge fan of Xena and Hercules but by far Xena was my favorite. No shame. I'm learning how amazing the sound affects were in the early 90s by re-watching some of them (thanks netflix!). The graphics too, two of my favorites are the time Xena jet-propelled herself out of the water like a dolphin and the time xena shot a tiny dagger out from between her breasts like a blowhole. It is too hilarious, but don't take my word for it, check it out yourself. Still, no shame. As a kid I was giddy to learn that my name Kelly is Irish for warrior women. Perhaps that is where my Xena kinship began? So how does all this connect back to dandelion greens? Not sure. To force a connection Xena was showed foraging from time to time on the show. Try it out and pluck some of your own dandelion greens, making sure you are gathering in areas away from spraying and popular dog potty spots. Make sure what you have is in fact dandelion or purchase them in the store. Honestly I don't forage all the time, the ones in the store are just so large and lovely they are hard to pass up! Try foraging at least once though, it is fun and rewarding. 

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Recipe (Serves 4)

Chickpeas - 3 cups cooked.

Dandelion greens - 1 bunch

Red onion - 1/2 an onion slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves minced

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

Apple - 1 chopped

Parmesan - 1/4 cup grated

Olive oil - 2TB

Salt and pepper - to taste

Place a medium pot of water filled halfway up with water over high heat until boiling. Chop your dandelion greens into 3. Dump the greens into boiling water and blanch for one minute. Dandelion greens can be especially bitter so this blanching helps take some of the bite away. Pour the greens out into a colander and set aside. Heat a large skillet up with 2 TB of olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for several minutes until softened. Add in the cooked chickpeas for a few minutes to heat through. Add in the dandelion greens and cook for a minute. Squeeze over the lemon juice and the season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Dump out into a bowl and then add in chopped apples and grated parmesan, stir until combined. 

Enjoy with an episode of Xena... or not. 

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