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Dandelion Greens with Balsamic Vinegar and Almonds

Dandelion Greens with Balsamic Vinegar and Almonds
  

Growing up as a suburban kid in the midwest, I first met the dandelion as an enemy to civilization and order, and in fact was paid a per-plant bounty by my lawn-obsessed father for removing the intruders as they appeared  -- but only if I presented them with the deep white taproot intact. When at some point I heard that people ate this foul and disgusting enemy of all that's right in the world I assumed, first, that one had to be desperate to be forced to eat such fare (I imagined lost children foraging in vacant lots and along railroad tracks), and second that I would certainly never allow myself to fall to such depths. (My father felt the same way about mussels  --  growing up on the Connecticut shore in the 20's and 30's, he thought of them as slimy fish bait and never ate one in his life. He even squirmed if he was somehow reminded that people actually ate them.)

But our understanding of what is food and what is trash evolves. I love mussels, in spite of my father's best efforts to discourage me from eating them, and so too have I come to appreciate dandelion greens, as they've graduated from foraged fare to the supermarket produce section. Somewhat bitter and, if cooked correctly, with a bit of crunch still in the stems, they partner well with garlic, onions and vinegar, and postitively shine in the presence of hot peppers and some salt.

This version is simple and quick and takes advantage of the best qualities of the lowly dandelion. It works particularly well if sharing a plate with a hearty roast of pork or lamb, or perhaps a stew.

Dandelion Greens with Balsamic Vinegar and Almonds

Dandelions_22 large bunches dandelion greens
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/3 cup unsalted toasted almonds, roughly chopped
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 T butter
hot sauce to taste
fish sauce to taste

Remove the roots of the greens. Wash the greens thoroughly. Cut the stems in pieces roughly 1-1/2" - 2" long and leave the leaf-ends about 5" - 6" long.

Sweat the garlic and onions with a little olive oil until tender but not browned, around  10 minutes. Set aside.

Cook the greens in water just sufficient to cover. Maintain a moderate simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes -- until the stems are cooked but still slightly crunchy. Drain and return to the pot. (If you want you can reserve the cooking liquid to make broth for another use. Otherwise, discard it.) Mix in the sautéed onions and garlic, season to taste with balsamic vinegar, fish sauce and hot sauce. Mix in half the chopped almonds.

To serve, mound in a shallow bowl and top with the remaining chopped almonds.

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Comments

Thanks for the recipe. I keep seeing dandelion greens at the market, but wasn't quite sure how to prepare them.

Stephen,
Have you tried fiddleheads?

I add my thanks for the recipe as well. And I can relate to your father's mussel dislike. Growing up in Seattle and having our family cabin on the Olympic Peninsula, my brother and I used the mussels living on the piers of the dock on the Hood Canal as bait. It took me over 20 years to give them a chance, but I actually like them more today than clams!

Stephen, I purchased seed packs for a couple different varieties of dandelion greens. Thanks for reminding me that I need to go out and plant them (so many seeds, so little time). And thanks for a recipe to cook them by.

Looks very tasty! Almonds are a get combination with balsamic vinegar. I do see dandelion greens in the store and have never really put much thought into them. Thanks for the idea!

Our little old Italian neighbor Rose used to just pick them from her yard, our yard, and the vacant lot across the street to prepare. Fortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), there was a never-ending supply for her! Clearly, you don't want to do this if you have treated your yard with any fertilizer. But what about that milky liquid in the stems? That stuff is kind of creepy. Maybe I will get brave and try this - it does sound good.

Also, I think it's funny that they sell seeds for dandelions.

I have never tried the greens...I love this idea. Thanks!

my dad once at a raw dandelion flower and I though he was a bit crazy...never even thought of cooking them ...am going to have to give them a go now..thanks

I blogged about dandelion leaves recently as well, but I just made a simple salad. Your version with balsamico and almonds sounds so much more special - thanks for sharing!

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