Tuesday, July 14, 2009

174. Dandelion Salad with Warm Pecan Vinaigrette (p. 137)

There's been a lot of talk lately about the benefits of locally-produced food. Heck, they just added the word "locavore" to the dictionary. And while the jury's still out on the environmental superiority of local food, I still prefer to buy local whenever I can. First, I like to support local small businesses. Next, there's something to be said for knowing the people who make your food and where it comes from. Finally, local food is fresh and in season, it has to be, and that means that it tastes better, which really makes all the difference.

Some people have taken the "eat local" movement to the extreme, like Barbara Kingsolver, whose Animal, Vegetable, Miracle chronicles her family's year of eating only food they produced themselves or obtained from local producers. I loved the book, but I can't bring myself to follow in her footsteps all the way. (I'm sorry, but I just can't give up bananas and oranges. Import the stuff that's worth importing, I say.) And I don't have the space, sun, or time to grow my own vegetables. But, I still do what I can to eat more locally-produced food. I patronize my local food producers, Mann Orchards and Raymond's Turkey Farm. I visit the Manchester Farmers' Market near my office. And this year, I'm participating in a CSA.

If you haven't heard, CSA or "community supported agriculture" is an agricultural business model in which people purchase "shares" of a local farm's seasonal production. Each week during the growing season, the CSA members get a box full of whatever's growing on the farm. The CSA members share in the risks and rewards of the farm. The amount and variety of the produce in the week's box will depend on factors like weather and pests. CSAs have grown in popularity in the last couple of years, and in my area, there are many to choose from. Local Harvest is a good source for information on finding CSAs near you.

My CSA share is arleady paying dividends for The Project. Some of the ingredients called for in The Book are hard to find in the grocery store. In the first two weeks of the growing season, my CSA share has given me two such ingredients: purslane (watch for the post coming soon), and the dandelion greens I needed for this recipe.*

First, I washed the dandelion greens, trimmed off any thick stalks and chopped them into large, bite-sized pieces and put them in a bowl. Then I cooked some chopped garlic and chopped pecans in some olive oil, stirring until the garlic was golden. I stirred in some balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and drizzled the hot dressing over the greens.

This was a delicious salad. The greens were crisp and fresh with a nice peppery bite, but not at all bitter. The dressing was excellent. The nuts and balsamic vinegar gave the dressing a nice sweetness and depth. The garlic was just right, fragrant but not overpowering. I also liked the interplay between the cold greens and the warm dressing.

Date Cooked: July 3, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: A-

*The recipe on epicurious.com is very similar to the one in The Book, but it uses hazelnuts instead of pecans.

1 comment:

Just me said...

Love your blog! I will be waiting for the next installment gleefully. :)