Growing up, I read about people eating dandelions, but whenever I tried one, they were bitter and inedible. As it turns out you need to pick young leaves before they flower. Rinsing well with water to remove some of the sap also helps.
Dandelions were an important food source for Native Americans, and were known as ‘Dutch Salad” to the colonists (likely due to their resemblance to endive)
Nowadays, you can often find them in Farmer’s Markets and in specialty grocery stores. For t hose who aren’t quite so adventurous, broad leaf endive or chicory are similar in flavor.
- 1 lb. fresh dandelion leaves
- 3 slices of bacon cut into thin strips.
- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- garlic clove, chopped or pressed.
- Tear the dandelion leaves into bite sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
- Fry bacon and garlic until bacon crisp.. Remove from heat and add vinegar. Pour a thin stream of bacon grease and vinegar over greens. Toss to mix
- You may garnish the top with bacon.
- As mentioned above, the broad-leafed endive looks and tastes much like a dandelion.
- A strong, salty cheese like feta goes wonderfully with dandelions.
- Nuts also benefit from this meal. Sunflower seeds, almond slivers or peanuts are great. Candied walnuts are fantastic in this!
- Some thinly-sliced ham or procetto instead of bacon is a real treat. I haven’t tried it, but I bet these would add a nice bite to a Caesar Salad too.
- If you pick your own, MAKE SURE that the area you pick from is not treated. No fertilizer and especially no sprays. You probably don’t want places where dogs or other animals run around much either. Pick young leaves, the smaller the better. Ignore plants that have flowered. Pick the leaves and rinse thoroughly.
- If you find them too bitter, make a mixed salad with more common greens.