For the Forager or Francophile, a Dandelion Salad

Dandelions’ sawtooth leaves bring a pleasant bitterness to the table, and make for a great salad. They’re best picked when tender, before the plant blooms, and they can be served raw or cooked.  Larger leaves may be sautéed, stir-fried or stewed with olive oil.  However, the dandelion is usually overshadowed by spring foods such as green garlic, asparagus, sorrel and rhubarb.

Dandelions grow everywhere so that foragers (searchers for wild food resources) are in luck.  The dandelions should be picked before they begin to flower.  Also, the forager should make sure that the leaves have not been treated with toxic chemicals.

Cultivated and wild, fresh-picked dandelion greens are being sold at farmers’ markets.  A long-leaved variety is also sold at supermarkets; these need to be trimmed as the top eight inches are best for salad.

A dandelion salad takes only 20 minutes to prepare and may include ingredients such as garlic cloves, grated ginger, lime juice, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, olive oil, beets, baguette slices, goat cheese, dandelion greens and eggs (the beets can be cooked and peeled up to two days ahead).  One version of the salad is modeled after a classic French recipe.

Nutritionists and science have shown that the dandelion is a green that’s good for you, and high in vitamins A and C.  Interestingly, the leaf was well known as a folk medicine cure-all, in the past.  Maybe dandelions could become the new kale?

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