Dandelion Greens and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

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Red Pepper Flakes I really should be calling this piece, bits and pieces. This week, my cooking was made up of mostly bits and pieces that we picked up from the garden, that has indeed begun to grow in earnest.

Well, my new discovery for this year has been Dandelion greens, that I have been using and playing around with. One of the ways, to learn how to work with something new is to play around with things. With something like dandelion greens, you do not really feel too bad if things do not work out, since they grow in wild abandon and there is not much other use for them. Often ignored as a pesky weed, these greens are a weed all right but that and so much more. Dandelion greens, like most other bitter greens have a lot of nutrition going for them, they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also good for diabetics, again something that a lot of bitter foods like the bitter melon tend to be. It has been fairly easy to find them and since our yard is not treated with pesticides, I do not usually have a problem working with things from the yard, as in they are relatively safe. So if you see, my picture below, the jagged greens around the yellow dandelion flower is what we are talking about. I actually call them grass flowers, not sure why.

Now, we get to taming the bitterness, so to speak. After some trial and error, I seem to feel that this green is very happy in the company of strong flavors, most notably garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. I shall tell you more about red chili pepper in a broader context later in this column, once I introduce you to all its possibilities. Essentially red pepper is dried spicy red cayenne, however there are nuances to the heat depending on how the pepper is ground or crushed.

I personally have found that most crushed pepper varieties tend to be a touch milder that the powdered red cayenne pepper. Possibly because the seeds are not powdered. It tends to be my pepper of choice, for spicy pasta dishes.

Asparagus
Also, making its appearance now is the asparagus, the classic harbinger of spring. The asparagus plant never fails to surprise me, I find it difficult to believe that the feathery plant can actually tighten to form these lovely delicate spears. The asparagus is an interesting creature, because once planted it returns on its own every year, increasing in quantity.

Last night’s dinner included these too, so essentially I also worked in a handful of green garlic and tossed up a simple and spicy pasta dish that Anshul and I gobbled up between chilled glasses of Resiling, a soft and sweet variety that paired well with the spicy offering.  Yes, all of this tossed up with some sausage and fresh pasta was our dinner for the evening.

I did also do something interesting with the greens taking them all the way to India, to find this recipe, keep following the facebook page and I promise to get the recipe over before the end of the week. So, have you been getting inspired in the kitchen with Spring offerings. What have you been throwing into your springtime pot?

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About Author

Rinku Bhattacharya, the Spices & Seasons blogger, loves meshing seasonal produce with fresh spices. Most of her recipes are inspired by her Indian heritage, and her cooking is practical, easy and well suited for a busy lifestyle on the go. As a mother with two young children, her recipes are also usually balanced and kid-friendly. Rinku is the author of the blog, Spice Chronicles (formerly,Cooking in Westchester), where she shares her life experiences and original recipes. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years. Rinku is the author of two cookbooks: The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles an award winning (Gourmand 2013) cookbook that highlights culture, memories and recipes from her childhood transformed where needed for her Lohud kitchen and Spices and Seasons that marries Indian flavors with local and seasonal produce. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and is also a contributor for Zester Daily.

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