Dandelion Salad

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05 May Dandelion Salad

I am quickly cementing my reputation as the neighbourhood nut. Yesterday I sat on the grass plucking dandelion heads and tossing them into a brown paper lawn bag before they could go to seed. Today? I was out there again, only this time nibbling on the leaves. Living on the windward side of a park in a no-spray municipality means we have a carpet of dandelions where our front yard used to be. When I complained about this on Facebook, in amongst all the weeding advice, my cousin Judith suggested I seek my revenge via a dandelion salad.

So today, I went out and sampled the lawn.

Here’s what I learned.

  • Good leaves come in small packages. If you are going to turn to your (unsprayed) lawn for dinner, pick only the leaves of dandelions that haven’t sprouted flowers yet. The larger the leaf, the more bitter the taste.
  • Less is more. Pardon the hackneyed phraseology, but if the cliche fits… If you like bitter greens like arugula, dandelion leaves will appeal. But keep in mind, this isn’t a stand-alone green. Mix your dandelion leaves with tender lettuces or they can overwhelm.
  • Fat is where it’s at. The lipids in oil, cheese and nuts balance the bitter leaves, making a nice contrast.
  • Take them with a grain of salt. I use homemade salad dressing, so it’s not as salty as commercial versions. I found a light sprinkle of finishing salt smoothed out the dish.

Got any recipes or culinary uses for dandelions? I’m not going to win the battle of the front lawn any time soon and am taking the “if you can’t beat them, eat them” approach. Anyone cook them? Make them into wine? I’d love to know your secrets.

In the meantime, here’s my Retaliation Salad. Turns out revenge is, indeed, a dish best served cold.

Dandelion Salad

Makes as much as you like

  • young, unsprayed dandelion leaves
  • mesclun mix or tender lettuce like Boston
  • chopped roasted cashews (any sweet nut like macadamia or pecans would do)
  • crumbled cheese
  • slightly sweet vinaigrette dressing
  • finishing salt
  1. Wash and dry the dandelion leaves. Toss with other lettuces. The ratio of other greens to dandelion leaves should be 2 or 3 to 1.
  2. Sprinkle with nuts and cheese.
  3. Toss with a homemade dressing that’s not too sharp. A fruit-based dressing is nice.
  4. Finish with a light sprinkling of finishing salt.

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37 Comments
  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 13:39h, 05 May Reply

    Thta’s so funny! And good to know about when to pick them. I was going to tackle our dandelion flowers to use as paintbrushes with the kids. Of course, we need dandelions first and they aren’t gowing to grow with snow on the ground.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:47h, 06 May Reply

      @Cheryl Arkison, dandelion head paintbrushes? That’s a great idea! Hope your weather settles down enough to allow you the pleasures of spring. The daffodils this year were amazing.

  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 19:39h, 05 May Reply

    I hear you and Dad de-headed about 8000 dandelions. The neighbours are in awe. They phoned and told me – they did talk of the feat with respect in their voices. If this recipe catches on you could supply Guelph with the leaves!! There are enough to go around. I loved the dish you displayed the salad in.
    See you Sunday.
    Love,
    Robin

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:50h, 06 May Reply

      @Robin Smart, I think we beheaded 9742 of these yellow-capped beggars. Allison gave me the dish for Christmas so at least some good came of the whole dandelion ordeal.

      It rained last night so I’ll be uprooting as many dandelions as I can while the ground is still wet. This means I’ll be the mud-covered neighbourhood nut.

  • Peggasus
    Posted at 20:37h, 05 May Reply

    The little old Italian lady, Rose, who lived next door to us for fifteen years, used to go across the street to a field near the train tracks and pick them all the time. The village should have paid her for keeping that land so nice!

  • Paul Synnott
    Posted at 03:52h, 06 May Reply

    I’ve never been a big salad eater but I’m looking forward this weekend to trying out a recipe for dandelion flower fritters.
    .-= Paul Synnott´s last blog ..Windsor Essex Changecamp =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:51h, 06 May Reply

      @Paul Synnott, dandelion flower fritters? Sounds intriguing. I’ve had zucchini flower fritters and loved them. Might have to give this a try. I have enough dandelions at hand.

      Do you have a recipe?

  • Anne
    Posted at 10:45h, 06 May Reply

    My husband’s Grandmother and Great Uncle survived on Dandelion greens while growing up. There Parents would abandon them for months at a time.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:40h, 09 May Reply

      @Anne, scary story. I’m lucky to be eating dandelion greens by choice, not necessity.

  • Judith Rutty Godfrey
    Posted at 16:24h, 06 May Reply

    Happy you were spurred to making what looks like a yummy salad Charmian! The recipe I have, and use but once a year as it’s not on the healthy side save for the dandelion greens, is a wilted salad with bacon, cider vinegar, a bit of sugar, dry mustard and a garnish of hard boiled eggs. Shall I send the recipe?

    Right now the fiddleheads I picked are awaiting fiddlehead salad for an upcoming family gathering:) Gotta love these wild things!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:41h, 09 May Reply

      @Judith Rutty Godfrey, fiddleheads have passed here. Can’t wait to see what’s on your table later this month!

      Thanks for the culinary inspiration.

  • Wizzythestick
    Posted at 07:38h, 08 May Reply

    LOl. Reminds me of the time I got my revenge on the weed called purslane

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:42h, 09 May Reply

      @Wizzythestick, never had purslane. Hope you enjoyed your revenge as much as I did.

  • Stephanie
    Posted at 07:46h, 08 May Reply

    Very clever! So, you never said what you were doing with the dandelion flower heads…wine making perhaps?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:43h, 09 May Reply

      @Stephanie, I was simply beheading the weeds before they went to seed. Never thought of wine but am not reconsidering my tactics next round. Think I’ll ease into fritters.

      Or maybe some jam?

  • Katerina
    Posted at 11:27h, 08 May Reply

    I made a great salad last year with grilled pears and dandelion.
    .-= Katerina´s last blog ..Lamb Shanks with Red Wine Recipe =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:44h, 09 May Reply

      @Katerina, grilled pears are always a lovely addition to salad. I had pears on my salad this evening, although no dandelions were present in the dish. I’ll have to give that combination a try.

  • Sophie
    Posted at 04:18h, 09 May Reply

    I so love dandelions, paardebloemen named in Dutch!
    They grow in the wild over here, there too?

    I so love your tasty salad! Yummm!
    .-= Sophie´s last blog ..Marinated chicken in lemon thyme, lemon, lemon zest, garlic & honey =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:44h, 09 May Reply

      @Sophie, do dandelions grow wild here? Yes. Too wild. They were brought over by the British who grew them in gardens. And then things got a little out of hand.

  • Tanya
    Posted at 15:56h, 09 May Reply

    Interesting – I hadn’t even thought about using the leaves in salad – and thanks for the little tutorial.
    .-= Tanya´s last blog ..Lentil and Vegetable Curry =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:45h, 09 May Reply

      @Tanya, glad to have helped. Do you do something special with the yellow heads? I figure if I can’t beat these things…

  • Paul Synnott
    Posted at 16:26h, 09 May Reply

    I used the recipe found here http://bit.ly/Hs174 . Very simple. The only thing I did different was add some salt and pepper to my batter.
    .-= Paul Synnott´s last blog ..Windsor Essex Changecamp =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:47h, 09 May Reply

      @Paul Synnott, thanks for the link. I’ll give these a try. The pancake version sounded interesting. OF course, I’m just looking for an excuse to buy a waffle iron. “Had to get one, dear. How ever else were we going to eat all those dandelions?” Think it’ll fly?

  • Chiot's Run
    Posted at 10:05h, 12 May Reply

    We’ve been enjoying dandelions as well, the leaves and the flowers in salads. I’ve also been harvesting wild violets and garlic mustard to eat. The violets make for such a beautiful salad! I’m considering making some violet syrup when I have time to pick tons of the blossoms.

    http://chiotsrun.com/2010/04/24/the-art-weeds-and-salad/

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:19h, 24 August Reply

      @Chiot’s Run, the violets would make a wonderful addition. Never had violet syrup before. Sounds intriguing.

  • Stella
    Posted at 17:02h, 15 May Reply

    Hi Charmain, I clicked on this photo from one of the photo sites. I love dandelion greens, though they don’t grow here in my subtropical hollow. They are a natural diuretic, so your’e right on when it comes to mixing them with other leaves that have different tastes/qualities.
    By the way, I love that bowl!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:21h, 24 August Reply

      @Stella, thanks. Good point about dandelion leaves being a diuretic. And the bowl was a Christmas present from my sister. She knows me so well.

      Thanks for dropping by to comment. Sorry my reply is so late. I missed a ton of comments and am just catching up now.

  • arneta
    Posted at 12:40h, 24 September Reply

    I like to prepare fresh dandelion leaves by dousing with hot vinegar and sugar, spiced up with bacon bits.. BTW thanks to this post, I like it.. http://www.apriliani.com/dandelion

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:27h, 24 September Reply

      @arneta, I’ve never tried dandelion leaves that way. My husband would approve simply because of the bacon bits.

  • Hazel
    Posted at 01:54h, 24 March Reply

    I finally made my first dandelion salad yesterday. I had no issue with the bitterness — didn’t find it so. But the leaves were really tough. I chewed and chewed until I got tired of chewing and just swallowed them. I used just the smaller young leaves, but all were tough.

    Eating from the “wild” fascinates me.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:06h, 25 March Reply

      Interesting. The leaves from my lawn were tender but bitter. Perhaps there are different varieties? Foraging for dandelions is easy here. They’re everywhere and spraying is banned, so it’s open season on the pesky little things.

      Thanks for letting me know your dandelion experience. Gotta say, after months of winter I’m not so against seeing a yellow head or two pop up on my lawn — for now.

  • Jeff Kleinman
    Posted at 16:47h, 17 April Reply

    I love eating dandelions! I like their bitter taste. They’re free and easy to grow, and supposedly, they are a very healthy thing to add to salads. My front lawn is full of them. Before I mow the lawn, I always go out and harvest enough dandelion leaves and flower stems for a nice big salad.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:44h, 18 April Reply

      We’re a while from dandelions on the front lawn. It snowed here the day you wrote that comment.

      I have yet to try the flower stems or flowers — which I hear make great fritters. Thanks for sharing your dandelion foraging. Enjoy your salad — and the warm weather.

  • Judith Rutty Godfrey
    Posted at 16:55h, 17 April Reply

    Time to get out and pluck those dandelions! In my experience once they have blooms the leaves will be less tender. In fact, I just spoke of it today so must go and get my trusty garden knife out to cut them out of the ground. Oh, and they keep for ages in the refrig.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:45h, 18 April Reply

      Dandelions again? Already? Wow. I live too far north. Good to know they keep in the fridge. Most greens have a short lifespan once picked.

      Enjoy your salad. I’ll just sit here and be jealous of your weather.

  • Dandelion Salad Recipe. | Peaks and Harbours
    Posted at 13:40h, 13 August Reply

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