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Roasted Fennel, Dandelion Greens Puree Soup

March 13, 2012

I am fortunate to have a hubby that cooks, and lately has been taking on dinner so we have a hot meal after a long day at work, as I spend longer time at work than home!  It used to be that when he cooked, he would need new ingredients – not what’s in the fridge, and that is something I would always fret about. So hubby dear has taken on the challenge and now cooks with what’s in the fridge – in this instance, Dandelion Greens. As we all know, dandelions can be challenging to cook, given the bitter flavor profile. I usually cook dandelion greens this way – it perfectly balances the bitterness with nutty mung lentils and sweet coconut.  G’s recipe is unique – I mean, who even thinks of dandelion greens soup?? It was delicious and extremely creative, with the tanginess from the tomatillos and tamarind balancing the bitterness, and the lentils providing a smooth texture – a perfect dish to warm you all the way through!!  Here’s G’s creation in his own words:

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I am back with another recipe for another leafy green. Last week I tackled Kale and now I had another assignment from the wife to use the Dandelion Greens we got at our San Mateo farmers market. The greens are slightly bitter and have a strong taste that can appear challenging but they taste great when paired with the right ingredients, and one of the most nutritious (http://www.foodscout.org/food/dandelion_greens.html)

What you need (to serve two hearty bowls)

For the Puree:
  • Dandelion greens – 1 bunch
  • Fresh fennel with medium or large bulb
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small tomatillos
  • 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper – fresh is always better
  • 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil
  • pinch of turmeric
Soup base:
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander seeds
  • 1 long dried red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 teaspoons lentils (Pigeon peas aka toor daal)
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
For the Garnish (optional):
  • 2~3 Sweet peppers
Making the Soup base:
Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice base in a shallow pan till you can smell the cumin and coriander. Transfer contents into a grinder and make a powder. Bring water to boil in large container (you will be adding the puree to this container later) and add the soup base powder and cook on medium heat covered for at least 10 mins to create a slightly thick base and turn off or leave on simmer with additional water till the rest of the preparation is ready to join the party.
Making the Puree:
Chop up the dandelion greens – all the leafy part and some of the stems as well. To cut the fennel remove the outer layers and the stem and chop the bulb – we are only interested in the edible bulb for this recipe (here is how to cut fennel http://www.monkeysee.com/play/16817-how-to-cut-fennel). Also chop the tomatillo and the garlic.
Heat olive oil in pan add the chopped garlic, fennel along with the turmeric and fresh ground black pepper and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add the chopped dandelion greens, tomatillos and continue sauté on medium heat till the greens wilt and the fennel is roasted. Roasting the fennel develops the licorice taste to balance the bitterness of the greens.
Now add the contents along with tamarind paste and salt in a blender and puree the mix adding just enough water to allow you to make a liquid – do not worry if you have extra water – you can reduce it when putting it all together.
Making the Garnish (optional):
If you want to make the simple garnish that adds texture and another dimension of flavor do the following. Cut slices of the sweet peepers and lay them flat on the pan coated with some olive oil on medium heat. Do not stir or move them till the eges are charred or caramelized then flip them over and do the same and turn. now you some crunch, sweet peppers to top off.
Putting it all together:
Add the puree to the soup base and cook on low to medium heat for 10 mins till the soupy consistency is reached. Pour in a bowl, add the crunchy sweet garnish, drizzle some olive oil and balsamico and enjoy!
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