Dandelions play both roles as a condiment and a vegetable in this dish. I started off by making a recipe inspired by two brilliant books off my shelf. The New Wildcrafter Cuisine by Pascal Baudar and Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings by Anya Dunk. In Dunk’s book she gives a recipe for what she calls Magic Vegetable Bouillon which is essentially a preparation of vegetables and salt that preserves and enhances their savoury flavour to make a base for other dishes. In Baudar’s book he uses a similar approach but to wild herbs. I took a little bit of both – Baudar’s wild greens and Dunk’s vegetables and quantities. She advises a very fail safe quantity of salt in her recipe (375g to 1kg of veg) so I followed this guide closer, but I imagine a reduced amount of salt to allow for some fermentation would also be interesting. I’m using this paste only after a couple of days and it will definitely gather extra layers of flavour over time but even in this short period it has an incredible green, herbal and savoury flavour that will make itself very useful in future recipes.
Wild Greens Bouillon
300g of Wild Greens – Dandelion, lime tree (linden) leaves, wild garlic and smooth sow thistle thoroughly washed.
1 small onion
150g of sea salt
Blend the greens and vegetables in a food processor until finely chopped. Mix with the salt and pack tightly into sterilised jars. Once opened keep refrigerated. Dunk advises that this will last for a year or longer.
This bouillon is a brilliant addition to some braised lentils. I have been slightly obsessed with Carla Lalli Music’s recipe for beans
for a few months now and have been incorporating some of the tips in this recipe to cooking my pulses in general. There is something really surprising about how good the resulting beans are in this recipe – much greater than the sum of their parts. The key thing that makes Carla’s beans incredible is fat and seasoning – two things that are great for pulses and but also things that are great for dandelions.
The aioli here is not a true aioli but really an emulsion of chicken fat, hot stock and miso paste. This can be easily made vegan by using vegetable stock and olive oil. It has a similar texture to a fresh mayonaise and is magical on these rich lentils.
Dandelion, Lentils and Miso Aioli
300g green or brown lentils
About 1.5 litres of good fatty free range chicken stock – reserve a little of the chicken fat. This could easily be subbed for vegetable stock and some extra olive oil.
Some fresh herbs – mint, oregano and rosemary are good
1 onion peeled and halved
White or yellow miso paste
Magic vegetable bouillon
Cooked cabbage or greens for serving
Additional dandelion leaves
Add lentils and stock to a large pot with the fresh herbs and onion. If your chicken stock is not fatty add a few tablespoons of olive oil – this is essential for tasty beans so don’t skip it. Add 1 heaped teaspoon of the bouillon, check or saltiness and bring everything to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Check again for seasoning and even add some more of the bouillon towards the end for a fresh savoury boost.
Put 1 tablespoon of white miso into a jug for a stick blender and add a pinch more of the bouillon. Skim a couple of tablespoons of fat and hot stock from the lentils and add to the miso mixture with the blender running. Just add enough to make a thick mayonaise-like consistency. Use the reserved chicken fat to sauté the additional dandelion greens. Serve the lentils and broth hot over the cooked greens and top with the aioli and dandelions.