have an assertiveness that can work wonders in the
kitchen, provided you know how to handle it and pair
the greens with complementary flavors. Pictured:
Dandelion Pesto and pasta.
much better half is not, shall we say,
"adventurous" when it comes to greens: A
"real" salad is built around a wedge of iceberg or
chopped romaine. Stewed collards are fine for New Year’s
Eve, and sauteed spinach can make an occasional appearance
at the dinner table. But that’s where the love ends.
Forget arugula and radicchio, and don’t even think about
when I pitched dandelion greens for dinner the other night,
well, you can probably understand the breathless shock.
are an assertive green—just ask any gardener who’s had
to battle them on the front lawn or in cracks on the
driveway. Unwanted, any greens are "weeds."
have you ever bitten into a dandelion leaf? The flavor is
tangy, even borderline bitter, with a definite texture. It’s
an assertiveness that can work wonders in the kitchen,
provided you know how to handle it and pair the greens with
night for dinner, I served dandelion greens with bacon, a
natural combination. I rendered a few strips of chopped
bacon, tossing in freshly chopped garlic — another natural
dandelion pairing — just before the bacon crisped. In went
a bunch of chopped dandelions, as I stirred to wilt them in
hot bacon fat. I finished the dish with a drizzle of sherry
vinegar and a touch of maple syrup, the vinegar cutting
through the heaviness of the bacon and the syrup helping to
tame the bitterness of the greens.
at the table, I looked over and saw both of our plates were
clean. Now it was my turn to be shocked. Success.
the envelope, I decided to try dandelions in pesto. Using a
mortar and pestle (really the only way to make pesto; the
grinding releases so much more flavor than the blades of a
blender or food processor), I ground garlic with a little
coarse salt, then added pine nuts, working the mixture to a
paste. In place of traditional basil, I slowly added chopped
dandelion greens, layering the flavors with grated cheese,
fruity olive oil and a touch of lemon juice as the bright
green pesto came together.
tossed the pesto with linguine and casually placed it on the
table. With each bite, the ground raw garlic and dandelion
was balanced with buttery pine nuts and creamy cheese. A
pesto with a bit more of a "bite," perhaps, but it
worked well with pasta and could easily work as a dip for
crostini or vegetables. The verdict? Another winner.
I decided to go all in with a dandelion salad. Because the
greens would be more prominent in this dish, I used tender,
new leaves for a gentler flavor. I tossed the leaves with
sliced onion, toasted pecans and crumbled goat cheese,
sweetening the salad with raisins and blood orange segments,
and dressing the salad lightly with sherry vinegar and oil.
could feel the quiet skepticism as I placed the salad on the
table. One bite. Then another. Several slow, thoughtful
bites before the silence was broken and the verdict came
know? I still think they’re weeds, but dandelions aren’t
minutes. Makes about ½ cup pesto.
1 to 2
teaspoon kosher salt, divided
tablespoons pine nuts
bunch (12 ounces) dandelion greens, trimmed and chopped
tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
tablespoons finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
2 to 4
tablespoons fruity olive oil
juice, if desired, to taste
a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic and 1/8 teaspoon salt
to a smooth paste. Add the pine nuts and grind until smooth.
Add a handful of dandelion greens and a sprinkling of salt,
grinding to break the leaves down to a pulp, until all the
dandelion greens and salt are incorporated (this can take up
to 30 minutes). Add the cheeses and olive oil, grinding and
stirring to combine. Taste, adjusting the cheese and
seasoning if desired. Add a touch of lemon juice to brighten
the flavors if you like. (The pesto can also be made in a
food processor or blender, though the recipe will require an
additional clove or more of garlic).
fat 2 grams
OF DANDELION GREENS, BLOOD ORANGES, GOAT CHEESE AND PECANS
minutes. Serves 4 to 6
(1-pound) bunch dandelion greens, trimmed and torn
toasted pecan halves
onion, thinly sliced
plus 2 tablespoons fruity olive oil
and freshly ground pepper
ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Supreme the oranges: Slice off the top and bottom of the
whole fruit, then cut off the rest of the peel, carefully
following the line of the flesh. Slice free each segment
over a bowl to collect the juices, separating it from the
central membrane. Set the segments and juice aside.
a large bowl, toss the dandelion greens with the pecan
halves, onion and raisins.
Make the dressing: In the bowl with the orange juice, whisk
in the sherry vinegar and olive oil, along with ½ teaspoon
salt and several grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust the
seasoning as desired.
half the dressing to the salad, tossing to coat. Add
additional dressing to taste. Gently toss in the orange
Plate the salad, dotting the top with crumbled goat cheese.
fat 7 grams
DANDELION GREENS WITH BACON
minutes. Serves 2 to 4.
tablespoon olive oil
slices applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch
cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
(1-pound) bunch dandelion greens, trimmed and torn into 3-
to 4-inch strips
and freshly ground black pepper
teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add
the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon
is crisp and the fat is rendered. The last minute or so
before the bacon is ready, stir in the garlic. Add the
dandelion greens and remove from heat, stirring until the
greens are wilted. Season with salt and several grinds of
pepper, and stir in the vinegar and maple syrup. Taste and
adjust the seasonings and flavorings if desired.
fat 4 grams