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Anyone with a green thumb and a backyard garden gets it - when the cute little bunny is eating your lettuce or the corn you're trying to grow is being munched by the local deer, you can understand that even cute, cuddly animals can become the worst invaders.  But annoying pests that take over your garden don't have to come from the animal kingdom!

Gathering Fresh Greens From Nature's Bounty

Plants that set up shop in the middle of you flower beds or lawn are equally annoying; it doesn't matter if they do have pretty flowers, they don't mix with the sculptured landscape that you have envisioned.  So get back at them.  

They have had the gall to invade and try and take over your lawn, so you can and should put them in a salad.  That's right a salad.  Dandelion leaves can be among the most insidious plant pests ever to populate a sward (I would say that's pretty timely use of a very Chaucerian word.)  However, they do make very tasty early spring greens if they are picked at the right time.

When You Should Pick Your Dandelions

Chefs debate when it is the correct time to try and gather this most prominent of wild, leafy greens.  It seems that after a dandelion plant put out that lovely little yellow blossom, they become bitter and are not edible.  They are the most delectable right before they start to send up that shoot, but any time prior to budding seems to be okay.

They have been used in this way as long as people have looked for ways to incorporate green things into their diet. No food historian seems to understand the origin of dandelion salad. Unfortunately a fellow gastronome to the Earl of Sandwich did not call for a leafy concoction mixed with bacon, boiled egg and a mild vinaigrette while he was enjoying an all night game of Whist. People probably started making dandelion salad because they were tired of stale winter fare and wanted something to cleanse their palate that was fresh. Since dandelions are about the first fresh greens to pop up, they became the preferred choice.

Dandelion Salad Recipes

There are a variety of dandelion salad recipes that can be used, but they all seem to include vinaigrette and other early garden goodies.  A good dandelion salad recipe starts with the correctly picked green, as described above.  Pick too late and you get something that probably make you cringe due to its bitterness.

Some recipes call for the addition of cubed potatoes, corn or some other starch to give the salad substance.  These will give you a meatier salad, in a manner of speaking, but they will take away from the fresh dandelion green taste.  Simplest is best in this case, and the simplest preparation is one of the dandelion greens, some red onion, a bit of crisp-cooked bacon, some chopped boiled egg, whatever spice you like (basil or thyme are nice), and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss all of these ingredients together in a mixing bowl and saturate with your favorite vinaigrette.

There is nothing more pleasant in the early summer than a fresh dandelion salad, no matter which recipe you choose. Go out there and brave the wilds of the yard, pick your own dandelions and try something that has a bit of nostalgia attached.

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