Vegan Dandelion Salad

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Compared to other food traditions I discovered upon getting married and moving to Berks County, Pennsylvania…

…Dandelion Salad at Easter takes the cake!

One thing’s certain, the only way to make eating weeds palatable (or even possible) is to smother them in hot bacon dressing, such as what you might use for spinach salad.

This is a problem for vegans, because hot bacon dressing…
…well I HARDLY need to spell it out for you.

Oh, OK, I’ll spell it: B-A-C-O-N
Also, E-G-G-S
And, O-T-H-E-R-N-O-N-V-E-G-A-N-S-T-U-F-F

My father-in-law used to take up residence in the kitchen each Easter to prepare the hot bacon dressing for the dandelion salad. By all appearances, he enjoyed this process immensely. He was a lawyer and worked long hours all the time. Easter was the only occasion I observed him cooking in the kitchen, although he was a griller and of course, a great lover of food and drink.

His presence in my mother-in-law’s territory (for that’s what it was) would set off a spell of marital bickering. This was not the kind of bickering to send you hiding under the stairs in fear. This was the kind you wanted to stick around for, because it was bound to be funny! They were a team, preparing Easter dinner in a perfectly imperfect way. Such is my memory. Alas, they are both no longer with us.

OK, deep breath and wipe away the tears which just sprang forth! It’s the holiday!

I never knew my father-in-law’s recipe. It may have been a simple hot bacon dressing, but around here Berks Countians rely on a prepared product called Wos-Wit. This is something you MUST pronounce with a German (or Pennsylvania Dutch) accent. Thus, “Vos-Vit.”

28-oz-Bacon-Dressing

Heat and Serve

Ingredients: water, sugar, smoked bacon, eggs, vinegar, milk, flour, mustard, cornstarch, salt and pepper.

It’s a challenge to vegan-ize many recipes, but this one presents a tricky problem. How to overcome the lack of smoked bacon AND eggs AND milk all at once??

Hang on! I can do it! Wait and see!

(While you wait, say “Vegan Vos Vit” ten times fast. Vegan Vos Vit, Vegan Vos Vit, Vegan Vos Vit, and so on. I was fatigued at three.)

I learned a trick from VegNews magazine, which published a recipe for corn encrusted seitan with a creamy dressing in its “Best of 2012″ edition. The trick involves lemon juice mixed with soy milk. It’s the base and inspiration for my:

Vegan Wos Wit (Or Vegan “Hot Bacon” Dressing): 

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One quarter cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread (Original)
Two tablespoons minced onion
One half teaspoon garlic powder
One teaspoon Mrs. Dash Original Blend (or salt and pepper)
Two tablespoons all-purpose flour
Two and one-half cups plain soy milk
One-half cup plain soy milk mixed with one tablespoon lemon juice
Two tablespoons prepared dijon mustard
One tablespoon sugar (raw sugar preferable)
One tablespoon red wine vinegar (more to taste)
One-half cup roasted red pepper bits, divided*

*Find “Fresh Gourmet” products in your grocery store produce section. You may substitute crispy onions like the ones you put on your green bean casserole. (I KNOW you, you green bean casserole maker, you!)

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I used this brand. Maybe there are others.

Instructions:

In a small-medium saucepan, melt Earth Balance over medium-high heat. Add and cook the minced onions until onions are translucent about three or four minutes. Add garlic powder and Mrs. Dash, sautéing for one minute. Add flour and whisk until flour is browned, about two or three minutes. Slowly add soy milk and soy milk-lemon juice mixture. Bring to a bubble then reduce heat to medium low. Mix until smooth.

Add mustard, sugar and vinegar. Cook for about ten minutes on low heat, stirring very often. Watch it! Add half the roasted red peppers.

Dress your greens with the still-hot dressing in a large salad bowl. Note: This recipe is enough for two large salads. Do not dump the entire contents onto one salad or you will drown the poor greens! Use your instincts! A dressed salad will look something like this with the remaining roasted red peppers sprinkled over top:

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And now for the next difficulty…

Scoring Weed:

Serves 4 or 8, depending how large the serving.

I’m not kidding, there are people on this planet who go out into their very own meadows and pick their very own dandelions for the purpose of preparing their very own dandelion salad.

I am not one of these people.

I purchased dandelion greens at my local grocery store. I would call these cultivated dandelion greens, not wild dandelion greens.

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The leaves are rather large, and everything looks clean and ready to go. These are coarse and bitter greens, which is why you want to wilt them with a hot dressing and sweeten them too. I washed them and dressed them.

What a true Berks Countian REALLY wants are the wild greens. I discovered that bags of dandelion greens FLY off the shelves at Easter time. (Again, I’m not kidding.) Therefore, I relied on my network of friends, including my friend Clare and HER friend Rickee, who was able to score the weed at the Leesport Farmer’s Market:

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Clare drove them to my house! What service! She did not appear to want them for herself. Can you imagine?! She said, “They look kind of grubby.” Her daughter Fay, who ran them up to my door–this was truly all a team effort–appeared just as happy to give them away. I wonder if she prefers chocolate bunnies. Hmmmmm. Probably. I don’t blame her.

And, in fact, they WERE grubby:

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But it was nothing a little rinsing and spinning wouldn’t cure. The result is MUCH better with the wild greens. They are not as bitter, and they are much more tender than the cultivated variety.

I put a pansy on top. Why not a dandelion flower? Don’t ask me questions, Silly!

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The bunnies approve:

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Happy Easter!

 

Kloe’s Kitchen and The Sunshine Award

I was recently delighted when Kloe from “Kloe’s Kitchen (Love.Craft.Bake.)” nominated me for The Sunshine Award!

I would like to acknowledge this thoughtful gesture differently. (I follow my own drummer!) That is, I thought I’d acknowledge Kloe by reading her blog more completely, choosing an item to make, cook or bake, and blog about my results!

Hint. I made this:

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Baba Ganoush

My daughter is a senior in high school, which means I have only a few short weeks to spoil her with after-school snacks.

Ideally, a student returns home from school, greeted at the threshold with the sweet smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, mother in apron, a cold glass of milk (for dunking) in her loving hands.

Or something.

It might happen somewhere.

Here, we have baba ganoush and celery. (It’s a party!)

I had this eggplant hanging around. It looked slightly past its prime:

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(No jokes about MY AGE and things being past their primes.) They can still be useful if they are roasted and spun in a food processor. (The eggplant, I mean.)

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