A Spring Tonic of Dandelions

Patience Gray’s Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia is an off-beat classic, both literary and culiniary. It was first published in 1986 and has unfortunately been long out of print. Patience writes:

“In the last twenty years I have shared the fortunes of a stone carver…The Sculptor’s appetite for marble precipitated us out of modern life into the company of marble artisans and wine-growers in Carrara and into an isolated community of ‘Bronze Age’ farmers on Naxos…

Living in the wild, it has often seemed that we were living on the margins of literacy. This led to reading the landscape and learning from people, that is to first hand experience. This experience is both real and necessarily limited. It is in this situation that I set out to write from personal observation and practice, underpinned by study, over a considerable period of time.”

(measurements are my guestimates but I make this often and it turns out well)
3 or 4 Cups Dandelion Greens
1/2 cup Fragrant Rice (Basmati, Jasmine, etc.)
enough water to steam rice
2 (or more) Tablespoons of Pine Nuts
Olive Oil
Salt

Patience calls this “Dandelion and Chicory Cooked in Kyria Agapi’s Way”, and gives the recipe as follows:

“In Kavala, Macedonia…culinary traditions carry on: grandmothers and great-aunts go on cooking in the age-old way. Here I should mention that weed-gatherers have never been known to measure or weigh.

After thoroughly washing the gathered dandelions and chicory, changing the water several times, Kyria Agapi chops them finely on a board, pours olive oil into a pan, puts in the chopped plants, adds a little water, salt. When they have cooked for a few minutes, she throws in a handful of long-grained rice and some pine kernels, and continues to cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is completely absorbed.

If the pine kernels are lacking, this dish can be served with a grated piquant cheese. The Sculptor, in spring, often has this for lunch. Weeds promote energy.”

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