Although this dish features cowpeas and French dandelion greens, you could use most any wild spring greens you have. French dandelion greens feature extra-large, succulent leaves; seeds of this and other cultivated dandelion varieties can be purchased to grow in the garden.
Photo courtesy Rob Cardillo
The 14th-century health guide Tacuinum Sanitatis shows a woman gathering wild lettuce, which would have been cooked in a pot with legumes to make a healthful meal. This recipe is in that tradition. I like it not just because it is delicious and perfect on a cold, rainy day, but also because you can substitute most any other wild edible green for the dandelion. If you have a bit of leftover Easter ham, consider adding it to the stock for extra flavor. MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS
• 3 cups cowpeas (black-eyed peas)
• 3 tablespoons oil, bacon drippings or butter
• 2 cups chopped onion
• 4 cups ham or other meat stock
• 1 cup short-grain rice, preferably Arborio
• 4 cups chopped dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) greens, or more to taste
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Put cowpeas in a deep work bowl, then add boiling water to cover them. Let cowpeas stand about 40 minutes, or until fully swollen. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a deep stewing pan and add onion. Cover and cook over medium heat about 3 minutes. Add prepared cowpeas, stock and rice. Cook over medium heat 20 to 25 minutes, or until cowpeas are tender and rice is soft. Stir in chopped dandelion; when leaves turn bright green, remove pan from the heat, adjust seasonings and serve. If you like, scatter grated cheese on top.
William Woys Weaver is a food historian, author and contributing editor for Mother Earth News and Gourmet magazines. He gardens, cooks and writes from his home in southeastern Pennsylvania.
More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!LEARN MORE