Summer has struck, which means that those blessed with back gardens are currently probably shaking their fists at the sky and cursing the name of weeds like dandelions and nettles. Which they really shouldn’t be doing, because—guess what?—these very same fauna pests are fully edible and quite delicious. I’ve already talked about nettles, so let’s turn to the dandelion. Yes, that annoying plant people pay good money to eradicate is perfectly safe to eat—and free! Consider how much you could save on greens at the grocer’s if you just wander into your back yard and pull a few weeds instead of dumping a bunch of weed killer on your lawn.
Dandelion greens have a rather bitter flavour, so if you like broccoli rabe, this is the green for you. If you’re not a bitter fan, consider mixing these in with other, milder greens, like in this spanakopita recipe. And take comfort in the knowledge that the greens you’re about to eat are high in calcium, iron, antioxidants, and important minerals. Kind of a win all around, right? Chow down, and enjoy your weed-free yard. Consider this a kind of vegetarian gardener’s revenge.
Wild Greens Spanakopita
Recipe inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Around 200-300g greens (nettle, dandelion, wild garlic, kale—whatever you can get your hands on)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 tsp thyme leaves
150g soft goat’s cheese, ricotta, or feta broken into small chunks
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250g filo pastry
75g unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/gas mark 4
If you’re using nettles, blanch them briefly in boiling water to remove the stings and drain thoroughly. Roughly chop all greens.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the cumin seeds for a minute or two, until they start to become fragrant, than add the onion and sauté for 5-10 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the thyme and mix. Remove from the heat and combine with the greens. Gently fold in the cheese, season, then stir in the eggs.
Brush a sheet of filo with melted butter and lay it butter side down in an ovenproof dish (a pie dish works very well for this). Let excess pastry hang over the edges. Lay another buttered sheet over the top, rotating it slightly so the whole dish is covered. Repeat until all but one sheet has been used. Spread the filling in the dish, fold over the hanging pastry, dabbing with more melted butter. Crumple the final sheet lightly and place it on the top, tucking the edges around the side, and dab with more butter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden. Let it sit for a minute or two so all the butter can calm down, then dig in.