Dandelions are everywhere right now. Many gardeners consider them pests but home chefs consider them a gift. This garden denizen is extremely versatile in the kitchen.
David Tanis is a big fan of the bright yellow bloom and wrote about it in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Dandelions are one of those Spring greens that get pushed to the side, thanks to the more glamorous stars of the season. Chefs go crazy for asparagus and ramps while foodies gobble up nettles green, garlic and rhubarbs. Dandelions? Not so much.At one time they were popular , adding zing to salads and fermenting as wine. They should appeal to the health conscious.In previous eras dandelions were the go to cure all. There were tinctures and soups, full of them because they were thought to be not only blood cleansers but good for the liver and kidneys. They were turned into tonics for rejuvenation. The greens are good for you.having one of the highest iron contents of any new greens. They're also loaded with such vital minerals as calcium,copper manganese,and magnesium. Dandelion greens are also high in Vitamins A and C, which are helpful in absorbing that iron along with Vitamin K used in clotting.Surprisingly they higher in calories than regular spring greens but they are still good for you.
Many home chefs ask what sort of dandelion greens should they get?The greens are sold in farmers markets and they've probably been specifically grown on some kind of farm. Many foragers usually go into the woods or backyards.Just remember that the leaves are highly absorbent and can also pick up whatever poisons and pesticides that were sprayed around them. As for the leaves make sure they're the tender ones that grow before the flower blooms. The leaves have a slight pleasant bitterness to them, especially with the wild ones. Since the French are big on the leaves, Mr Tanis offers them in a vinaigrette.The recipe is modeled after a classic Parisian salad.with lardons,or pork fat cubes, beets and eggs. He spikes it with fresh ginger and lime juice to temper the dandelion's strong flavor.This is an labor intensive salad that includes cooking the beets and lardons and served with goat cheese smeared on toasted baguettes. The greens can be cooked into a simple frittata with Parmesan cheese and onions. They can also be cooked up like spinach with olive oil and garlic for a side. Use them instead of broccoli rabe with pasta for a new spin on cavatelli and broccoli.
It is dandelion season. Head to the woods or the farmers market and pick them up for a salad or omelet. They are chock full of nutrition and flavor.