EVERY RECIPE HAS a story and this one begins at a popular Port Angeles pub.
I wasn’t in the mood for soup.
It was almost spring and I was tired of all things winter: scarves, hats, firewood and soup.
But I am constantly on the prowl for new cooking ideas and the soup of the day sounded intriguing: pesto lentil barley.
We ordered a cup to share for the table along with extra spoons.
It was by all measures a fabulous soup, but we all agreed it could use more green vegetables.
It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and the waitress wore a sparkly green hat and Packers socks.
Perhaps swayed by the decorations, I was inspired to try my own version.
I went home, checked the pantry and found red lentils and buckwheat groats (close enough substitution for barley) and put them in a pot to soak overnight.
Soaking grains is an easy way to speed cooking (think lower energy use) and improve the digestability of most grains and legumes.
In the morning, I headed out into the cool sunshine with my weeding trowel and a colander and went looking for something green.
This is usually the best time for local weed eating.
Dandelion, miner’s lettuce, chickweed and bitter cress are revving their engines as the soil warms and the days lengthen.
We humans are in perfect synchrony with the season.
As spring unfurls our bodies are craving vitamin C, vitamin A and other phytonutrients contained within these often overlooked and sometimes despised superfoods.
Eating your weeds is fun and delicious.
The hardest part is cleaning off the grass and plant matter in the kitchen before you chop.
Dandelion greens should be harvested when the plants are small, just before they bloom.
Even when young they have a powerful bitter taste, so you might want to mix them with other milder greens such as kale or bok choy.
Sour balances bitter, so another way to tone down the bitter is to add a squeeze of lemon at the end of the recipe.
We had a long, cold winter and spring growth seems to be slow coming this year.
I know I’ll have a bumper crop of tasty weeds in my yard soon, but that morning I had to look closely to find enough of the tender dandelion greens to fill my bowl.
Betsy Wharton is the proprietor of the Clallam Canning Co., a local purveyor of artisan pickles and other farm to jar goods. You can find her and her products at the Sprouting Hope Greenhouse at 826 E. First St. in Port Angeles. Or contact her at [email protected] canningcompany.com.