Dandelion Greens n’ Garlic
When you put just a few ingredients together in just the right way it is very satisfying and this is what I believe cooking is really all about. I also really get a kick out of shopping in my own yard for the ingredients. I have prepared dandelion greens many times and I prefer them smoothered in garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. It makes for a great side to just about anything.
The dandelion has been used for centuries and has culinary as well as medicinal uses. The leaves are packed with nutrition but they are especially high in Vitamins A and C. It is a widespread plant, as you already know. I can’t imagine many who reads this will have a difficult time locating them. When life gives you dandelions… well, you know the rest.
Early spring is the best time to harvest and enjoy your dandelions as they become tougher and more bitter as the year progresses into summer. I prefer the really young leaves that first sprout in spring. As they grow taller the leaves higher up the plant and on the outer part are better as they tend to be softer and less bitter. You want the soft silky leaves rather than thick leaves or stems. This flower or weed, depending on your perspective, changes character from place to place and season to season so there is a fairly diverse array of dandelion leaves. I have found them anywhere from not very good (sometimes) to great (most times) but after using them a few times you will develop instincts for the best crop to harvest, much like picking berries. Make sure you snatch them from a pesticide free lawn, which coincidentally is usually the same lawn with all the dandelions.
Dandelion Greens n’ Garlic
1 small handful of dandelion greens (about a cup chopped and packed)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp olive oil
This recipe is for one portion but I have arranged this recipe into a simple 1 to 1 ratio, for example you would want 4 handfuls of dandelion greens and 4 garlic cloves to serve 4.
To clean the dandelion: add the leaves to a salad bowl and fill with water to float off any debris. Carefully run off the water and repeat as necessary. Lay the leaves on a kitchen towel to dry. Note: the dandelion leaves you collect should store for several days in the fridge before using.
Slice garlic cloves from tip to tail into the thinest strips you can. The slices will look like little flower petals.
Hold a bunch of overlapping dandelion leaves together and slice from tip to tail as well into about 1/2 inch pieces. (For late season or thicker leaves its best to blanch them first. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add leaves and cook one minute. Strain and rinse with cold water.)
Add olive oil to a small skillet and add garlic slices, then turn heat to medium.
Allow the garlic to begin to sizzle and let it sit for about 2 minutes, then turn heat to med-low. Gently shake the skillet a few times by moving it in a circular motion as the garlic cooks.
Continue to cook garlic until most of the surface area is a light brown shade.
Add chopped dandelion and toss in the oil, then allow to cook for three minutes before turning heat to low and cooking a few minutes more. If it seems necessary, add another drizzle of oil to the greens, I usually do. Taste a sample, if it is too chewy cook one or two additional minutes.
When ready, sprinkle with salt and pepper, I suggest liberally. Toss and serve immediately.