Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wilted Dandy Salad

Over the weekend Marty and I took a stroll down to Lake Washington through our neighborhood park. Dandelions were everywhere, big clumps of them, most without buds—in other words, salad greens prime for the picking. If your palate is sensitive to bitter tastes, it's essential to find dandelions that haven't budded. We brought home a tote bag's worth.

I'm not a big fan of warm salads. The other night we had dinner at a new restaurant in Seattle, and though my main was good, I thought the salad of warm spring greens (foisted on me by my dinner companions) was sacrilege. I want my tender young lettuces upright and crisp, not soggy and slumped over.

But there is one warm salad I'll walk miles for. We've been making a version of it with spinach for many years now, thanks to a recipe shanghaied from our friend Kathy. Our stash of dandelions seemed like an obvious fit on this occasion.

Kathy's Wilted Salad

6 cups dandelion greens (or spinach)
2 cups basil leaves
3-4 oz prosciutto, diced
1/2 cup pine nuts
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the greens in a large salad bowl. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add pinenuts and garlic, stirring occasionally. When pinenuts start to brown, add prosciutto and cook one more minute. Pour contents of skillet over salad greens and toss with parm. Season if necessary.


Jon Roth said...

Perfect timing Lang, this one is going on the list this weekend for Easter brunch! Thanks!

drfugawe said...

I find each year I am more tuned in to the taste of bitter greens - and in the case of dandies, the early season stems are prime raw salad add-ins, and the later mature stems are great as cooked greens (with oo, and garlic of course).

Ain't spring wonderful?

nooschi said...

I never thought to pick my own greens. I think I may just try that. Great looking salad. My mother in law picks her own grape leaves, and they taste much better than the store bought ones.

Langdon Cook said...

Jon - I kept my dandy leaves whole, but if you get some bigguns I'd recommend a rough chop. Enjoy!

Doc - Anyone who likes kale should be making use of this free and highly nutritious resource right now. And a simple green salad benefits from just a few torn leaves. Stay tuned for an all-forage salad soon...

Nooschi - Thanks for stopping by. Give it a try and report back.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, interesting! There are some dandelion greens around my community garden plot, maybe I'll throw a few into my first salad greens harvest. Do you have any pictures of what a "too mature" dandelion plant looks like, or is it entirely about whether there's a flower stem or not?

Langdon Cook said...

GraduallyGreener - Thanks for dropping by. I'd say it's mostly about the flower stem/bud. Maybe later in the season this is less true (?). For salad greens, look for the rosette of leaves that hasn't budded. That said, the buds are delicious in their own way, particularly in omelets, and the petals make a bright addition to bread.

sally said...

As a kid my favorite vegetable, maybe my only vegetable, was my grandmother's wilted lettuce salad, made with bacon, bacon drippings and vinegar. I'll try to harvest dandy leaves according to your instructions and have at it again. Thanks for inspiration.

audrey said...

Lang, thanks. This looks like a totally approachable way to each dandelions for the uninitiated.