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.

Serves: 4

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

 

  1. Wash the dandelions well in a little salted water.
  2. 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.
  3. Separate the stems and the stalks.
  4. Roughly chop the stems.
  5. 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.
  6. Into a shallow pan pour in the oil and add the chopped shallot and garlic.
  7. 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.
  8. Stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the chilli as required and season well with salt and pepper.
  9. 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.