Friday, July 8, 2016

Dandelions Done Right: Hendbeh

Cooked Dandelion Recipe
Marhaba, yes dandelions are the star of my dish. Cooked Dandelions is on my top 10 favorite dishes list. This dish will surprise you because in your mind, dandelions are weeds, a nuisance and not a dish to savor. Traditional Lebanese food is essentially vegetarian because it is built on making use of the crops in different ways and extending their lives beyond one season. Meat, poultry and fish were consumed sparingly and were considered an expression of wealth. The majority of the Levantine region such as Lebanon, Syria, Palestine share similar cooking habits and traditions.
In Lebanon dandelions are called "hendbeh" and in the South of Lebanon, they are called 'elet. There are many ways of cooking the dandelions, many people sautee them in lots of olive oil, topped with fried onions. I think, the "frying" part takes away from the ethereal nature of the dandelions. I cook them just as my mom does. Steamed or boiled to take out the bitterness and mixed with sautéed and not fried onions. Finished with generous amount of lemon juice and some salt. simple!
Wild dandelions recipe
The best dandelions are the wild ones, they are so tender and packed with flavor; I often wonder how such delight can result from utter neglect and laissez faire; but that is also a lesson in life; sometimes, the best things happen when left alone. Too much attention and fussiness can inhibit. I can draw some conclusions and use them in my parenting style. Sometimes less work, yields to unique results. Back to my dandelions, as these beauties are indeed wild. I wish I can say something spectacular such as I spent a day on the mountain foraging them, but the truth is that they naturally grow in my in laws backyard. My in-laws know very well how fond I am of dandelions, and they immediately ship them for me. Some people ship Lobster, I prefer dandelions. 
Hindbeh Recipe
3 bunches of dandelions
1 big yellow or white onion, chopped into thin wedges
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and peeper to taste
You will need a large pot filled with boiling water, a colander, and a big pan

Dandelions tend to be bitter. The wild ones are less bitter and thus cook quickly. Boiling in hot water or steaming takes the bitterness out. The secret to quick cooking is to finely shop the dandelions. First, you start by cleaning them really well. I fill a big bowl of water and let them soak in it for 10 minutes. All the dirt will sink to the bottom and all the impurities and dead leaves will float on the top. I rinse them several times. Then I finely shop them into half inches strips. Meanwhile, there is a huge stock pot filled with simmering water. I just put them in it. The cooking time varies, you just have to test for doneness. They are done when the they are no longer bitter and when the fork easily penetrates the tick part of a stem piece.

Meanwhile, In a big pan on medium high heat, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and then add the onions. Sautee the onions until you achieve a golden brown color, almost caramelized. Turn off the heat.

Once the dandelions are cooked, place in a colander to drain. The secret for a delicious Hindbeh plate is a well drained one.  I let the dandelion drain and cook down. Then I divide them into parts that you can hold between your hand and squeeze the water out. Don't be gentle, that water is your enemy. Get it out. You will notice that that huge pile of fresh dandelions that you started with will yield to a small plate. it is ok, good things come in small packages.
Lebanese Dandelion Recipe
Add the drained dandelions to the sautéed onion and cook on low heat till they are blended. And salt and peeper. turn the heat off. Add the lemon juice to taste. I love my hindbeh very sour, so I tend to use lots of lemon juice. You can eat it as a side or scoop it is arabic bread. My daughter loved to eat it them in a bowl with a fork. I am not offended. 

For Arabic bread recipe, click here to check out my recipe

No comments:

Post a Comment