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Do you like dandelion greens? Why? (and how do you make them?)

My CSA is sending me a big bunch of dandelion greens every week. I just took my latest stab at making these bitter, acrid things tasty, and failed again. If you're a fan, can you tell me how you prepare them such that they don't taste like punishment?

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  1. They are a bitter green for sure. Your best bet is to eat them raw mixed in with other "sweeter" salad greens. Add them to salad as you would add frissee, arugula, belgian endive, treviso, or radicchio. It's a very pleasant acccompaniment. When adding bitter greens to a salad, don't use a variety. Use one or two types at most. Think contrasting flavors - not domination.

    I also prepare them in a Pugliese fashion where they are first parboiled, then sauteed with garlic and evoo, served with a dried fava bean puree and some crusty pane Pugliese. Delicious, but can be very bitter. Top with a drizzling of evoo (perhaps some grated cheese).

    Fave e cicoria: http://www.sannicandronline.it/upload...

    Pane Pugliese: http://www.papageorges.com/Recipes/Ot...

    Lastly, I'm sure you could prepare them with a smoked hock like you would collards. The bitterness of the green will be masked somewhat, but not much.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cheese Boy

      The April 1999 issue of Saveur had a great lentil/dandelion soup from Egypt. It involved cooking a cup of lentils in 9 cups of water until tender, then sauteeing onion, garlic, red chile, and grated ginger together for 10 minutes. The mixture is added to the lentils, along with dandelion greens, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper and cooked until the greens are tender. If the taste is a bit blah after the soup has cooked, I sometimes add a half chicken bouillon cube and simmer for a few minutes.

      I serve it with dollop of yoghurt.

    2. I mix them with arugula and then sweeten up the salad by adding dried craisons, goat cheese and a black rice vinegarette (less acidity in black rice vinegar). Did that at a dinner this past weekend and everyone raved.

      1 Reply
      1. re: holy chow

        I prefer them cooked. If you blanch them in boiling water and then saute in olive oil they become much less bitter. Add some garlic, maybe bacon or pancetta, and YUM.

      2. I actually like bitter greens, so you may wish to read no further. In any case, I love dandelions best in a French-style salad -- with lardons (okay, bacon) and drizzle over a vinaigrette made with the hot bacon grease.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sea97horse

          Yes - bacon fat seems to loooove bitter greens, and vice versa. It's the only way we use dandelion greens. Plus, an excuse for bacon!

          1. re: sea97horse

            This is how my grampa would make them and I loved it as a kid. I never get them these days. :)

            1. re: sea97horse

              Proof that bacon makes everything better, including backyard weeds!!!! ;)

            2. oh i love bitter greens -

              here's one of my favorite ways to prepare dandelions. have a pot of orecchiete on the go - or some other pasta which holds sauces nicely. saute a bit of garlic in good quality extra virgin olive oil, toss in a few anchovies and saute them until they dissolve. meanwhile blanch the greens quickly, drain and add to anchovies, garlic and oil. reserve a cup of the pasta cooking liquid. drain the pasta, add to greens mixture along witha good sized knob of butter and some cooking liquid if it seems too dry. give ita quick turn or two on the heat and serve with reggiano.

              to put a sicilian/catalan twist on this, just add some raisins and toasted bread crumbs at the end.

              1 Reply
              1. re: potterstreet

                I like your addition of anchovies. I make a very similar dish with broccoli rabe, but I've usually added slices of hot Italian sausage rather than anchovies. I'll have to give your version a try.

              2. just straight up sauted in olive oil and lots of garlic
                served with loaf of crusty bread yummy
                i will eat that just as a meal itself

                1. There's a recipe in the Schlesinger book "Lettuce in Your Kitchen" for a dandelion green salad with ham and nectarines and a molasses/peanut dressing. It's awesome. The contrast of sweet/bitter/salty works perfectly.

                  I will say, however, that though dandelions should be bitter, they shouldn't be terribly bitter, which they are if picked too large. I've gotten some oversized, unpleasantly bitter bunches, and I don't think there's much that can be done with them.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: curiousbaker

                    I'm with you there. I like bitter greens, and the Dandelions I have tried to saute w/ garlic as several posters mentioned, have just been horrifying. They were quite large. Raw is the only way I can stand them.

                    1. re: curiousbaker

                      I wonder if that's been the case with the ones I've tried to cook.

                      I love bitter greens - raw or cooked - and have lots of success with arugula, escarole, mustard greens, kale, etc. It's only dandelion greens that I've found unpalatable. The recipe suggestions folks have posted all sound good, but actually I've already tried a bunch of them - sautéing them in garlic and butter, mingling them into salads - and what I've tended to end up with is a tasty recipe with one miserable, acrid element (the greens).

                      So maybe the greens I've gotten were picked too late...

                      1. re: GDSwamp

                        I don't know what your CSA has been sending you, but here's four images displaying a variety of dandelion greens. The first image is the best IMO for those who have a low tolerance for bitterness. They are the least bitter. Their leaves are a lighter green than most, and whose shape resemble that of arugula almost. The two middle images, tend to be more bitter. Their leaves are more spike-y (akin to roquette), sometimes their ribs tend to be red, and the leaves are a much deeper green. The greens in the last image are the most bitter. They have a tendency to grow wild. These greens are also the least tender of the ones shown here. HTH.

                        Image 1: http://www.vegiworks.com/dandelion.jpg

                        Image 2: http://z.about.com/d/greekfood/1/0/8/...

                        Image 3: http://www.wegmans.com/kitchen/ingred...

                        Image 4: http://www.pesticide.org/dandelion2.jpg

                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                          The first three pictures all appear to be the Italian or Greek (different names for the same plant) dandelion, also known as catalogna, which is a member of the chicory family and has blue blossoms. Image three shows both the red and green cultivars. Image four is the common lawn weed, which is also eaten. Note that this one will assume a somewhat upright habit if it is not mowed. Johnny's Seeds sells seeds for red and green cultivars of the Italian dandelion as well an improved version of the garden weed. Their catalog listing gives a bit more information. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/catalog/pr...

                          I have grown catalogna for many of the last 20 years. Bitterness varies depending upon growing conditions and age of plants although cut and come again harvesting can produce comparatively tender and mild greens even with older plants. Commercial growers almost always cut whole plants. The bigger the plants the older and tougher they are. You probably cannot get the really good stuff unless you grow it yourself, but that statement applies to many vegetables.

                          Catalogna is a typical chicory in that it prefers cool growing conditions and becomes more bitter in hot weather. The same applies to lettuce.

                          1. re: Eldon Kreider

                            Eldon, very informative reply. Thank you.

                            1. re: Eldon Kreider

                              Great, informative posts, Cheese Boy and Eldon. Thanks. We've been getting the red-ribbed variety pictured in the third image. And I have to say - they're not THAT tough. But the bitterness is intense and sort of monotonous. I'd be very interested to taste second-growth greens as Eldon describes...

                              1. re: Eldon Kreider

                                I took a close look at the plants as I was harvesting some greens Friday afternoon and saw that rounded and quite dentated leaves were both present on the same plant at times. We have been harvesting from these plants since early June. I try to harvest leaves plus stems that are less than a foot long. Bitterness is less now than in August due to cooler growing conditions even with last weekend's heat blast in Chicago.

                                The stems require more cooking time than the leaves. My wife often cooks the stems totally separately from the leaves. Cut pieces a couple of inches long. After moist cooking, finish cooking the drained stems with a bit of garlic and olive oil. The result mixed with other vegs is good over pasta. The same technique works well with red or even better golden beet tops where the leaves cook down like spinach while the stems are still pretty tough.

                        2. Dandelion greens, like so many other initially-not-the-tastiest food stuffs, benefit greatly from the application of the soul food theory.

                          The soul food theory posits that any food is made better by the addition of fat, salt and spicey/sharp flavors.

                          Saute with bacon and onion or garlic, a few red pepper flakes and there you go.

                          1. Wow, such great ideas! I'm also getting these this week so now I have some choices.

                            1. I boil them for quite a while, sometimes with escarole or chicory, then serve with olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of salt. The water from boiling the greens make a nice tea with lemon juice and is very good for you, especially if you are under the weather. This is a traditional Greek way of serving wild greens passed down from my grandmother.

                              1. try it sauted with olive oil /garlic/ and crumbled up italian sausage

                                1. I love all the bitter green lovers coming out of the closet. I love them, too.

                                  In addition to all the wonderful suggestions, I add an old-time favorite. We (my family) sear lamb bones (neck bones) and the scraps left over from trimming the lamb in a pot, not too long, just to get some color and flavor, then add an onion and the dandelions with some water and salt, and cook until greens are wilted. The lamb is a great flavoring, and you don't need much of it, and then while you are eating your greens, you can pick on the meat that is left on the bones.

                                  One overall comment to the suggestions below is that rather than cooking with garlic, my family uses onion. Blanche the dandelions and drain, then sweat some chopped onions in olive oil until soft, then add the dandelions and salt and cook for 10-15 minutes. Spinkled with some lemon juice and served with a loaf of hard bread, this is one of the perfect Monday meals (after a weekend of rich eating).

                                  1. Nice to see all these replies. My health food store carries a limited variety of organic greens, including dandelion, so that's an incentive to buy and use them. I appreciate the suggestion of blanching; normally I have sauteed them in garlic/oil, and they remain quite bitter that way. Being vegetarian though, I'm not likely to try bacon or other meat fat.

                                    Dandelions are supposed to be terrific in the vitamin department.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: comestible

                                      And they're supposed to be a natural diuretic -- hence the common French name for them, "pisse-en-lit!"

                                      1. re: sea97horse

                                        Gosh - thanks for that. Brought me right out of the closet it did.

                                        I love dandelion greens....been eating them en salade since childhood. Mother always said - bitter in the mouth, sweet in the stomach. Or something like that.
                                        The salad I make has the greens washed in many waters, torn or sliced into reasonable pieces, a bit of minced onion, sometimes a nice tomato from the garden, sliced hard boil egg, good olive oil, red wine vinegar, S & P... crusty bread.... a meal unto itself. Don't forget some shaved reggiano over top.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Gio, watercress and parsley are two other vegetables considered diuretics. Your salad is delicious and healthy.

                                    2. In the DC area, there's a small local Lebanese chain of restaurants and take-out markets that sells an addictive dandelion dish called hindebeh/hindbeh. The greens are sauteed in lots of olive oil. Then the greens are mixed with generous amounts of garlic and lemon juice. The dish is topped off with caramelized onions. Pure bliss!

                                      If you use the "hindbeh" spelling to do a google search, you'll pull up several recipes for this sublime dish. One recipe suggests soaking the greens in cold water 2-4 hours to remove the bitterness.

                                      1. I'm coming in late on this thread.

                                        The most delicious way I have to prepare them is a cold salad side dish called hindbeh bil zayt or hindbeh bil tahini, Middle Eastern recipes. Many boil the greens with a dash of bicarb or soak them with bicarb. Then they are braised in olive oil with slices of garlic and optionally chopped parsley and/or coriander seed powder. You squeeze out the liquid and toss them with a few teaspoons of tahini (same consistency and amount as a non-creamy pesto stirred into pasta).

                                        Another option is to add thin slices of onion to the saute (ie, onion threads) and optionally, to caramelize them after removing the greens. Or you can garnish the plate with a frisee of caramelized onions on top -- I like the Asian ones that come in big jugs in the spices section that are semi-fried. Oh, and they like lots of salt.

                                        Dandelion is a liver and kidney cleanser. It's a better source of A per weight that almost anything, and a cup has more calcium than a glass of milk.

                                        You can use The Google to find hindbeh recipes.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: shetango

                                          excellent suggestion: I made a version of this with the carmelized onions, lemon juice and salt: it was truly delicious. Initially I thought they were going to be too bitter, but the recipe I had suggested chopping the greens up very finely, washing and rinsing them several times and finally squeezing the moisture out with a tea cloth to remove most of the bitterness. They were mild enough that I didn't have to blanch them with baking soda. I served them over rice with grilled chicken and my 17 year old gobbled them up. Thanks for the reference!

                                        2. take what would be your fav lentil soup recipe
                                          and saute the greens in evoo (lol rachel ray) and garlic ,and a dash of crushed red ppr (hot)
                                          and it to the soup

                                          1. The secret of how good dandelion greens a.k.a. chicoria is out! :(
                                            In the spring or summer when growing, the white, yellow, or light green inside leaves are delish in a salad with other bitters. The darker green leaves (long and lanky) can get tougher and more bitter. For me, the more bitter, the better. Wash the heck out of them and blanch. Sautee some garlic in evoo with chili flakes, salt and sautee those puppies up! When I am feeling like more of a meal, I add cooked white kidney beans when refrying and then eat with crusty bread for dipping.
                                            It is also good in a sausage and potato soup chopped up for a hint of bitterness.
                                            YUM!

                                            1. OMG!! i know this is 3 years old, however, i just ate these greens for the first time and THEY ROCKED!!!
                                              I read the recipes and improvised.
                                              my dandelions came from whole foods, first of all. i boiled them about 5 min-7. drained and transferred to another skillet with 2 pats of butter, a garlic clove i minced myself with the garlic press, mrs dash and cayenne. (OH i salted the water real well that i used to boil). OMG then i added half a pouch of that lemon pepper tuna. I was afraid....but it was soooo good!! not bitter at all, as i cant stand bitter....i was so proud of my cooking!!

                                              1. i almost forgot, i cut off the bottoms....like everything under the wire tie

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ccoday

                                                  The stems are actually the sweetest part; I like them even more than the green tops. Give them a try next time!

                                                2. why only for dinner, I love them in my green smoothie which I will blend up for either breakfast or lunch. Add in pineapple, ginger, coconut water and hemp seeds and ice and you have a meal that will energize you and flush you. I like to pick them right out of my lawn, just before its cut as that is when they are most long and visible.

                                                  1. t I add a quarter to a half tsp of baking soda to a large pot of them when I cook them in salt and water. Boil till tender....bitterness is gone. Baking soda can be adjusted to taste.

                                                    1. So I have found that Arabs know how to make healthy delicious. There is a recipe that my sister's Syrian mother in law makes that is delish! It's called "hindbeh" which literally just means dandelion in Arabic. You chop the dandelions up and wash and dry them thoroughly. Then boil them in a pot of water for about 30 minutes. Squeeze all the water out (this is an important step). After that you liberally salt the dandelions and crush 5 cloves of garlic and juice 2 large lemons. Add the lemon juice and garlic to the salted hindbeh and mix well. Then enjoy... or Sahtain as you would say in Arabic :) Note: You're gonna be breathing some major garlic after this, but it will be well worth it...it is delicious and it is uber healthy for you!

                                                      1. Everyone's suggestions are awesome. My dad would make a "dressing" of good coarse mustard, olive oil, salt and coarse pepper. He'd wilt the dandelion greens in a little sweet butter, then pour the dressing over it and serve with Italian bread.