I haven’t posted any recipes in awhile, but this one was too tasty not to share!
As regular blog readers know, I’ve got a yard full of dandelions, and aside from harvesting the flowers for dandelion wine and dandelion jelly, I also gather dandelion leaves. Bags and bags of dandelion leaves! Sometimes I put them in green smoothies with frozen pineapple, banana and filtered water. Sometimes I steam them and just top with a hint of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. And sometimes I’ve been known to eat them wrapped around a slice of raw manchego. Tonight, I decided to make a dandelion soup.
I don’t measure when I prepare food, but here’s a guestimate:
Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry
1.5 cups dried red lentils
filtered water to cover the lentils
1 strip of kombu seaweed
1 clove of garlic, pressed
half bag of gathered dandelion greens
half bunch of cilantro (not pictured)
three handfuls of dried goji berries
1 16 oz. can of coconut milk
Thai Kitchen green curry paste to taste (I used two generous scoops)
Cover the lentils with filtered water and begin to boil. Add in the kombu (for better digestion) and a clove of pressed garlic.
As the lentils and water begin to boil, put the dandelion greens and cilantro into a blender. Add enough filtered water (not the boiling water, but more water) to blend the greens into about a quart of nice, bright green liquid.
Add the blended water and greens to the pot of lentils and continue to boil. Watch to make sure the lentils don’t foam over. Turn down to low once you’ve established a rolling boil, at which point, you can add the three handfuls of goji berries and let it all simmer.
When the lentils are soft –about twenty to thirty minutes — add the coconut milk and green curry paste. Simmer for ten more minutes to meld the flavors. Serve and add a hint of sea salt to taste.
Goji berries hail from the nightshade family, just like tomatoes. Asians often add them to soups in order to impart a rich sweetness. In this soup, they perfectly balance the bitterness of the dandelions and go well with the subtle cilantro flavors. The spicy-sourness of the green curry rounds out the flavors, with the kombu adding that hint of fish flavor usually found in non-vegan curry dishes.
I got the idea for this soup while craving red lentils, noticing that I really needed to use up the rest of our cilantro, and researching where to plant my two new goji berry bushes:
Apparently, the bushes love full sun and can grow to sizes of eight to twelve feet in height and diameter. That’s a lot of goji berries! It also requires careful planning, since they like to spread once happily planted in their spot. I haven’t decided whether to plant them next to each other (with space in between) for a full goji hedge — a “fedge” (food hedge) in permaculture speak — or if I want to plant them in different areas to increase the odds of finding appropriate growing conditions. In the meantime, I will definitely add goji berries to soups again! Also known as wolfberries, these little gems pack a nutritional wallop: from beta carotene to anti-oxidants to fountain of youth chemicals and blood thinning capability.
Although I still consume the vast majority of my food raw, some things benefit from cooking. The boiling process mellows the sugars of the dried, sticky goji fruits, and it allows the dandelion greens to form a short-term herbal infusion, making some of the nutrients more bio-available than in their raw state. Besides helping with allergies and providing high vitamin A and calcium, dandelion greens offer so many benefits that I’m just sending you to the following link: click here to read a long list of dandelion health benefits. The results of eating kombu include: vitality and youthfulness, detoxification, adding essential trace minerals, and easier digestion of legumes.
Speaking of legumes, the red lentils made the list of the top ten healthy foods, due to their high fiber, high antioxidants, magnesium and folate. Additionally, scientists recently found a compound in nuts and lentils that blocks the growth of cancerous tumors.
Cilantro chelates mercury and heavy metals, and garlic does everything from boost immunity to thinning blood to keeping away vampires –psychic and otherwise. 😉 Coconut milk contains phosphorous for strong bones and manganese for good blood sugar levels, along with Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and various amino acids. A healthier option would involve cracking your own coconut to avoid the BPA in cans; however, I keep these cans on hand for very occasional, spontaneous meals. I’m a Lazy Raw Foodist even when I cook! The Thai Kitchen brand of curry pastes, including this green paste, are (as far as I can tell at this time) vegan. I keep both red and green flavors on hand, because they make fabulous soups and nori wraps on very short notice.
Most importantly for my purposes tonight, this superfood soup tasted savory, sweet, tangy and all around amazing! It had so many rich flavors that I can’t believe I only used water and no vegetable broth. TGWHL: Thank God/dess We Have Leftovers! 🙂