Spring dandelions – Forage these sunshine heads on your daily walk!
Bittersweet and foraged makes this dish a perfect later spring treasure. I use the sunshine head of the dandelion in salads while pan frying the stalks and leaves as a side. Dandelions are best picked within the spring months so whilst you are taking your daily lockdown walk make sure you plan-ahead and pick some to have and enjoy the same day. Leave the house with a pair of scissors for snipping and a basket to lay them in as to not damage their gentle heads. I would recommend that you do not pick them on the roadside due vehicle pollution and make sure when you return home you wash them well in a little salted water to remove hidden bugs and grime. The dandelions have a slightly sweeter taste, but often they still hold their notorious bitter flavour too, some would say like marmite. I am a lover of dandelions, not so much of marmite alas. They work perfectly as a side dish to a piece of fish or meat, tossed through pasta or my favourite would be squashed in-between a panino filled with a little cured meat, spicy provolone cheese and topped with the warm pan-fried dandelions greens.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 8-10 minutes
400g freshly foraged dandelions
3-4 tbsps. Extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, peeled, finely sliced
2 plump garlic cloves, peeled, finely sliced
40g olives, de-seeded, sliced (not dried black olives)
Small chilli, finely sliced (quantity is your choice)
Salt & pepper, to season
Fresh basil, torn to serve
- Wash the dandelions well in a little salted water.
- Remove the heads of the dandelions and set them aside on some kitchen towel. Place them into the fridge and use the heads within 12 hours in a seasonal salad or garnish, please note after a few hours they will loose their charming colour.
- Separate the stems and the stalks.
- Roughly chop the stems.
- Add the stems and stalks to a pan of salted boiling water and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain the greens well and set them aside.
- Into a shallow pan pour in the oil and add the chopped shallot and garlic.
- Fry gently until the shallot has just softened for 4 minutes or so. Tumble in the olives and add the boiled and drained greens back into the shallot pan.
- Stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the chilli as required and season well with salt and pepper.
- Serve as required.
Carmela’s tip: Dandelions do not last well once picked so I would urge you to pick them and use them within a few hours.