Horta, or wild greens, are a staple in the Greek diet. There are tons of varieties all of which are most often boiled and served drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. But most Greeks also enjoy eating these greens with a dollop of pungent skordalia, that ever-so garlicky Greek dip made with potatoes or bread. My father-in-law loves to eat his vlita (amaranth greens) smothered in skordalia; my mother-in-law … not so much. In fact, she scolds him that the subsequent smell (the inevitable result of eating this stuff) will deter anyone from coming within five feet of him. But I’ve got to admit, I eat skordalia every chance I get … and I don’t care one bit!
Case in point: we went out Saturday night with my sisters and friends to an Astoria taverna, Kyclades (owned by very good friends of ours) and ordered the “poikilia” or trio of Greek dips (tzatziki, skordalia and taramosalata). Most of our parea (that’s Greek for group, friends – you get the point) shied away from the garlicky stuff. Me, I dove headfirst (almost literally) into the silky skordalia and creamy tzatziki. How could anyone not?! And to be honest no one around me complained that I, well, allegedly stunk nor did I get a whiff of garlicky aftereffects from any of my fellow diners. Though the five carafes of wine may have had something to do with that …
Moving on … a quick trip to the fruit and vegetable market saw me bringing home bundles of fresh turnips and parsnips this morning. And my first instinct this afternoon was to transform these root vegetables into skordalia. And you know what? Who needs potatoes or bread in their skordalia when they could use these two beauties instead? This skordalia turned out utterly delicious … just make sure to roast the parsnips and turnips as I share below. It will make all the difference.
By the way: As I was making this and subsequently clicking away with my camera while photographing the dish, I was all the while thinking it was pretty much genius to use these root vegetables in place of potato or bread as in traditional skordalia. A quick search on Google.com as I began typing this post out, however, proved me wrong: take a look at Laurie’s Celery-Root Skordalia here, or the Maloufs’ Parsnip Skordalia here … they too sound fantastic. And there I was thinking I was SO darn creative …
Dandelion Greens with Roasted Parsnip and Turnip Skordalia
3 lbs. dandelion greens
3 turnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, trim the dandelion greens and rinse them well to remove all dirt and grit. (Tip: I like to fill my kitchen sink with cold water and let the dandelion greens float around, allowing the grit and dirt to sink to the bottom. I soak them this way two, sometimes three times, to be sure they’re clean.) Place the dandelion greens in the pot of boiling water and cook the greens for about 15 minutes. Empty the greens into a colander, then rinse under cold water and finally drain well. Push gently down on the greens to remove excess water. Set the greens aside.
For the Skordalia: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the turnips and parsnip in some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place them in a baking dish and roast until tender and light golden. Let the vegetables cool. Place the roasted turnips and parsnip into the bowl of a food processor along with the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and vinegar. Process the vegetables and with the motor on, begin adding the olive oil. Process the mixture until smooth and well combined. Add additional olive oil as necessary. Adjust seasonings and serve alongside dandelion greens.