Making Brown Butter Shrimp Spaghetti with Dandelion Greens
For someone who cooks food, talks (in sleep too, apparently, as verified by the Sister) food, dreams food and eats [a whole lot of] food, there are a lot of staple ingredients I have yet to taste; kale, canned anchovies, watercress, ricotta cheese, capers, all dried herbs save for oregano and basil, butter beans, dandelion greens. Sometimes I convince myself that I know what these ingredients taste like, based on hours of
procrastinating, when I should be studying reading and extensive research. And in my head these informations stay, until one day when I finally taste the real thing.
As it happens to be, our small patch of garden is of the unruly sort. I think the last patron of the house had a green thumb, since there were already an eggplant patch and a papaya tree, if I’m not mistaken, when we took the place. Alas, it is now a weedy affair, with bushes I can’t identify threatening to take over. Weeds have grown through the cracks in the pathway and I saw a yellow flower that reminded me of younger days, blowing dandelion seeds across the wind. Now I’ve read one or two Kinfolk magazine to know that they’re edible, but what does it taste like?
Bitter. That’s a common word in all my searched results. Boil it twice, they say, to leech off the bitterness. Pair it with rich flavors, they say, cheese, bacon, cream, egg, bacon fat and more cheese. Perfect, I say, a new ingredient to cook in hearty ingredients to taste and commit to memory.
BROWN BUTTER SHRIMP SPAGHETTI with DANDELION GREENS (serves 4) :
[ 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti + 1 lb large shrimp, cleaned and deveined + 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter + 2-3 rashers of turkey bacon (or bacon) + 2 cups fresh dandelion greens, torn into 1” pieces + 4 cloves of garlic + 3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley + 1 teaspoon chopped red chili + juice of 1 lemon + 3/4 cup panko, or regular bread crumbs + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1/3 to 1/2 cup parmesan cheese ]
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al-dente according to the package instructions.
In another pot, heat water to a boil and cook the dandelion greens for 5 minutes. Drain, and cook again in a new pot of water for another 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Chop the bacon and add to the skillet and brown. Take it out and set aside. Remove oil and fat until you have about two tablespoons left. Add in the breadcrumbs, nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Stir occasionally until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
In another skillet, heat the remaining tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the butter melts and begins to foam, give it a good whisk and add in the garlic and chopped red chili. Keep whisking until the butter begins to bubble and brown flecks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. Add in the parsley and lemon juice and stir. Add in the dandelion greens and turn the heat to low.
Drain the pasta and toss it into the butter-shrimp mixture. Stir to combine, making sure all the pasta is coated in brown butter. Throw in the bacon and toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide into plates and top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.