Sunday, March 20, 2011

Old Fashioned Spring Greens Recipes

Today I'm sharing tips and recipes for spring greens that I found in my ragged copy of The 20th Century Cookbook. The first recipes are for watercress which can be easily grown or bought in the produce section. The next one is for Dandelion Greens, which sometimes you can find in the store too. If you do use wild dandelions be sure they haven't been sprayed. I was reminded as I typed out the text from the book, how much I enjoy the language differences in old cookbooks from how we write and speak today.

Stewed Watercress
Lay the cresses in strong salt and water, pick and wash them well, and stew in water until tender; drain and chop them, return to the stew pan, with a lump of butter, some salt and pepper, and let get thoroughly hot. Just before serving squeeze in a little lemon juice. Serve with fried sippets of bread. These are very nice with boiled chickens.

Fresh Watercress
Wash very carefully, shake dry, heap on a pretty dish. To be eaten with salt, as each person likes.

Grandmother's Dandelion Greens
When thoroughly cleansed boil in plenty of salted water till tender, drain and press till very dry, and chop in a chopping bowl moderately fine. Take a large bunch of garden sorrel, wash, drain thoroughly, and chop quite fine. There should be about one-third as much chopped sorrel as dandelion. Into a deep saucepan put a heaping tablespoonful of butter for each cupful of the sorrel. When quite hot add the sorrel and stir over a moderate fire till it has turned brown. Now add the dandelion, stir till boiling hot, remove from the fire and add 1 beaten egg for each pint of greens and serve. The eggs may be entirely omitted without spoiling the dish. More or less sorrel may be used, according to taste, no vinegar being eaten with the greens. The wild sorrel is equally as good, but, being very small, requires considerable time to gather and prepare.

One peck of greens is sufficient for a family of six. Dandelions, cow-slips, yellow dock(the long narrow leaf), mustard, turnip tops, cabbage sprout, lambs' quarters, etc. Separate or mixed. Examine very carefully. Rinse in several waters until they are entirely free from sand and insects. If the last water be well salted it will aid in freeing from insect life, especially if they are allowed to stand in it awhile. Cook in plenty of boiling salted water. Cut away all the tough leaves and stalks before cooking. Drain in a colander, chop a little, return to the fire in a saucepan, and season with butter and pepper. This dries them a little. Serve hot. Send vinegar around with them. Garnish with slices of hard boiled egg.

Brenda's Notes
I have to mention I love this wording: Send vinegar around with them.

I also wanted to make note of using wild greens of any type. Please be sure you KNOW it's the correct plant. The library should have an identification book of some type, or even better would be to find someone local who knows plants to identify them if you aren't sure. Only pick where pesticides or fertilizer is NOT used. Greens are really easy to grow, even in containers, and seeds should be in the store to choose from if you want to try growing your own.

On OFL we have an article I wrote on sorrel that includes recipes: