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imported(?!!) dandelion greens (WHB#184: dandelion)

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summary: recipe for dandelion greens in anchovy sauce with optional fried egg; information about dandelion for Weekend Herb Blogging; (click on images for larger views and more photos)

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #184
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

dandelion greens The dandelions in this pan were shipped from Texas! How silly is that? It’s one thing for us to be importing fresh vegetables in the middle of winter but in spring and summer? Does that make any sense at all?

Dandelions abound here in Toronto from early spring until late fall – except in our garden. I’m guessing they abound just about everywhere in the world – except in our garden. (Read about how I got rid of our dandelions before I knew any better.)

We first tasted dandelion greens in 2006. They are on the bitter and slightly tough side but we loved them anyway. We loved the flavour and the fact that they’re incredibly good for us.

We often buy them and they are always imported (usually from Texas). Uncooked, they are invariably tough and bitter. And I keep thinking that brand-new spring dandelion greens must be absolutely wonderful. I suspect that they are tender, delicate and maybe even a bit sweet.

On the weekend, we rode our bikes past a front lawn absolutely full of young dandelions. The leaves were brilliantly green and the flowers sunnily yellow. I doubt that there was any grass left in that front garden at all. I also doubt that the people will be harvesting their dandelions. We daren’t do any guerilla harvesting though. Who knows what pesticides and chemicals have been thrown onto that particular lawn over the years?

Goodness, how sad.

Because dandelion greens are wonderful.

How completely silly that we are buying imported dandelion greens!

This spring, I have found only 5 tiny dandelions sneaking up through the grass on our postage stamp front lawn and zero dandelions in the back garden. I keep wondering where I could plant dandelions so the next door neighbours, who aren’t yet thrilled with the notion of eating dandelion leaves, won’t freak out.

You’re probably wondering why I’m ranting and raving about dandelions right now.

We keep past issues of SAVEUR magazine in the bathroom and not long ago, T was leafing (ha, no pun intended there!) through No.83 and was intrigued by the suggestion to make a salad out of dandelion leaves tossed in a warm dressing and then topped with a sunny-side up fried egg.

At breakfast, he announced that we would have that for dinner. (Eeewwwwwww!!! NO THANKS!!) Ever since a revolting-looking (to me) salad with lardons and fried egg in Lyon, T loves having an egg on top of salad. He insisted that the egg was essential for the dandelion greens that night.

So, knowing we had zero dandelions in the garden, we hopped on our bikes and headed to the green grocer to buy dandelion leaves. As soon as we got home, we tasted those Texan dandelion leaves; they were clearly too tough to eat without cooking them!

dandelion greens Here is what T did to prepare the greens.

Dandelion Greens with Optional Fried Egg
based on a recipe in SAVEUR magazine No.83, p.34, April 2005

Nope, no measurements… just think about a simple vinaigrette when putting the oil and vinegar into the pan.

  • 1-2 anchovies, drained
  • olive oil
  • chili flakes
  • garlic, sliced
  • good shot dandelion greens, chopped
  • cider vinegar
  • pepper & seasalt, to taste
  • egg (optional)

Preparation

  1. Put a stainless steel frying pan over medium heat. Pour in some olive oil. Add anchovies and cook them, mashing them with the edge of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add chili flakes and garlic and cook until the garlic is beginning to caramelize.
  3. Add dandelion greens and stir-fry until the leaves are tender.
  4. Stir in cider vinegar. Taste and season with pepper and salt (you may not have to add any more salt because of the anchovies). Remove the greens to a serving dish and set aside to keep warm.
  5. If you insist on the egg on top (brrrr), add a little more olive oil to the frying pan and fry the egg sunny-side up until the yolk is done to your liking.

Serve the greens with a grilled chop and mashed potatoes. If you’re completely insane, lay the fried egg on top of the greens.

Note: If the dandelion greens are young and tender, apparently, they do not need to be cooked and can simply be tossed in the warm vinaigrette. The SAVEUR recipe uses lemon juice rather than cider vinegar to make their vinaigrette.

dandelion greens These greens are delicious! With not even a hint of anchovy taste (but I’m guessing we’d find the dish lacking if the anchovies weren’t there). Apparently (surprisingly) the egg was good too. But even T admits that it looks absolutely disgusting and he said that it didn’t actually offer that much to the dish and he probably won’t bother adding the egg next time.

We served the greens with mashed potatoes, a grilled chop and onion gravy. The dinner was delicious!

But I STILL can’t get over that in Ontario, we are buying dandelions shipped from Texas! Not that there’s anything wrong with Texan dandelions. I’m sure they’re fine. I know they’re fine. We eat them all the time. In fact, I’d be thrilled to eat Texan dandelions in Texas. But in Ontario, it would be nice to eat Ontarian dandelions. Surely, there are Ontarian dandelions that haven’t been sullied with herbicides, pesticides, chemicals, etc. etc!

Maybe our weekly farmers’ market sells dandelion greens. Remind me to check next Monday.

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB#184)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen

dandeliongreens Dandelions are rich in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, several other minerals, etc. etc. Dandelions are also ridiculously easy to grow in absolutely terrible soil and all parts (root, leaves, flower) are edible. Considering that dandelions seem to be one of the world’s miracle foods, it’s remarkable that so many North Americans are obsessed with irradicating dandelions with pesticides rather than by over-harvesting.

To procure dandelion greens, you generally have two options: go to the store or pick them yourself. The drawback to buying them is that many markets stock either cultivated dandelions, which are tamer in flavor than the wild variety, or […] impostors from the chicory family that have been mislabeled as true dandelions. To bypass such confusion, try foraging for them yourself […] However, you should be careful not to harvest the greens from (or near) a pesticide-treated lawn or within 75 feet or so of busy roadsides, where they may be contaminated by auto fumes and various detritus. As for the optimal time to harvest, dandelions are the most visibly abundant, and the tenderest in the spring. […] You can also eat mature dandelions; just be aware that the greens become bitterer after the plant has flowered.

-excerpt from ‘Truly a Remarkable Plant’ by Rich Lang, SAVEUR No.83, p.34, April 2005

According to the USDA Bulletin #8, “Composition of Foods” (Haytowitz and Matthews 1984), dandelions rank in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value. Minnich, in “Gardening for Better Nutrition” ranks them, out of all vegetables, including grains, seeds and greens, as tied for 9th best. According to these data, dandelions are nature’s richest green vegetable source of beta-carotene, from which Vitamin A is created, and the third richest source of Vitamin A of all foods, after cod-liver oil and beef liver! They also are particularly rich in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, and are a good source of protein.

-excerpt from ‘Health Benefits of Dandelions’ by Peter Gail on the CHI website

Read more about dandelions:

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Weekend Herb Blogging - 3 years 3 cheers A while back, Kalyn (Kalyn’s Kitchen) handed the reins of her fabulous weekly event, Weekend Herb Blogging over to Haalo (Cook (almost) Anything). Thanks to Kalyn and Haalo, not to mention the countless wonderful participants, this event is still going strong. Cinzia (Cindystar) is hosting WHB#184; to be included in her roundup, the deadline for posting is Sunday 24 May 2009 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-6). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following:

 
edit 25 May 2009: Cinzia has posted the WHB#184 round up. Do take a look. There are delectable entries you need to see!
 

This entry was posted in 'Saveur' Magazine review, cookbooks, etc., crossblogging, food & drink, posts with recipes, side, vegetables, WHB on by .

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  • MrsBrown

    We have plenty of organic dandelions you can have. MrBrown has declared a war on them and takes his trusty screwdriver out to the lawn to dig them out. He used to have a special dandelion digging tool but it broke and he realized the screwdriver was stronger and did as good, if not better, a job. Perhaps he can save some of the leaves. Perhaps we’ll give dandelions a try but I”m sure MrBrown would be happy to pick them and export them to you. They may not be Ontario dandelions but they ARE Canadian!

  • That is pretty funny that you’re importing weeds! I have to admit, the idea of salad with egg on top sounds good to me. Haven’t ever tried it, but I do have a few dandelions!

  • Wow..dandelions are really what I thought they were! And you eat that? Or even better, shops actually have them on offer? Ooookaaay… That’s interesting! (Maybe a poached egg instead of fried would be nice on top of that?)

  • ejm

    It is pretty insane that we’re importing dandelion greens, isn’t it? And isn’t that a testiment to the dandelion that there are still PLENTY of dandelions to go around for everyone. I’ll bet there are thousands of Texan lawns covered in dandelions….

    I don’t know, MrsBrown. I wonder if once you try the dandelion greens (get them early before they get too large!) , MrBrown might not be setting aside huge areas of your garden just for dandelions. (Good idea to use a screwdriver! I used one of the knives from the camping cutlery after the special dandelion tool bent so badly that it became useless). Of course, you can’t eat your dandelions if there has even been a hint of herbicide near them….

    Kalyn, you can have the egg on top of my salad. For me, eggs just DON’T belong in or on salad unless they are incorporated into oil to make mayonnaise….

    Have you completely lost your senses, Karen?! Poached? Eeeeewwww, that’s even a worse idea than fried! :stomp:

    -Elizabeth

  • Nope I’m with Karen: give me a poached egg on this one and I’ll think it’s fabulous!
    I do think it is insane that Ontario imports Texas weeds ;o) good grief what is this world coming to. That’s really thinking green and saving the environment!
    Did you find Deborah Madison? I have two of hers and enjoy them both so much.

    Brrr… poached egg. You and Karen are welcome to my poached eggs, Tanna. They’re just toooo shuddery for my taste!- Elizabeth
     
    P.S. I have put “Vegetarian cooking for everyone” and “Vegetarian suppers: from Deborah Madison’s kitchen” on hold at the library and await the phone call saying that they’ve arrived.

  • It’s plenty of dandelions in Italy as well, in the countryside you can see people going for a walk on Sundays to pick them up.
    I have in my garden too but never thought to get rid of them, well actually my garden is a mess of different herbs, it’s too windy and too difficult to keep it like an English garden!
    They are also a funny “toy” for children: when the yellow flower is old, it turns in a cloudy light ball to blow away … who didn’t do it when young?
    Don’t you think they taste too much bitter?

    We love the bitterness of dandelion greens, Cinzia. And apparently, if the dandelion leaves are very young, they aren’t nearly as bitter.
     
    Yes, children play the same game with the flower after it has gone to seed here. I remember doing it myself often (to my mother’s chagrin – she was trying to get rid of the dandelions from our garden!) And you’re right, how many don’t do this when they are young? Just the other day, we saw a little girl in park slowly picking her way through the park and happily blowing on as many flowers as she could find – and there were LOTS.
     
    -Elizabeth