Dandelion Salad

Dandelion Salad
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We live by a small lake and this morning the "honking" of our Canadian Geese made me get up. I love to get the fresh coffee and head for the recliner where I can watch these 6 beautiful fowl. When the one on "watch" starts to honk very loudly and not the "danger" honk, I know they want some cracked corn. So I have it ready to take to them. You see our family is a mom and dad and 4 year old geese. The four were born here last year and Uncle Joe said they would be back. They are.
Anyway as I was walking out to them I saw the yellow of a dandelion.......Now most find these to be a pest. They are a memory trigger for me. Grandma looked for those first blooms so we could have "Dandelion Salad". Now they have to fresh and young greens. The yard at her home was never sprayed and so it was chemical free and we could eat the salad greens.

When she saw the first bloom it was time to "Harvest" some. She would put on her sunbonnet...it not only blocked the sun but on spring days "kept her ears warm". She had these small baskets and knives that were just for cutting dandelion. We would get the by the root(that cleaned some from the yard) but she also wanted them with root so they would stay fresh. We would clean them good with the roots on and she would put them in water in the fridge until time to make the salad. I think I ate the salad for the dressing! I make this dressing with endive now.

Sometimes grandma would add a cup of watercress to the salad. It gives it that "peppery" taste. I love it!

Now she made Dandelion wine too....hold on...she was not a drinker but always used wine and whisky for "medicinal" reasons. She would brew up about 1 gallons and it would go in earthen jugs and into the food cellar and we best never be caught nipping. She was proud her recipe came from "Old Doc Lehman" like that made it medicine.

Dr. Lehman's Dandelion Wine

4 quarts dandelion flowers
4 quarts boiling water
4 pounds sugar
1 lemon
2 oranges

Pour boiling water over the flowers. Let stand 24 hours. Than boil 20 minutes. Put in the rind of the lemon and orange in when boiling. Strain through colander. Add the pulp of the lemon and orange sliced in when it is lukewarm. Add a tablespoon of yeast and let stand a week. Than strain it through cheesecloth and put it up. Keep a month before using. If you put it in a jar, do not tighten all at once(the lid)(Don't seal too soon or you will over-pressure the bottles)

~This is from Doc Lehman of Mountville,Pennsylvania

My Aunt and Uncle make this every year and her are what they have added.

Add yeast when cold, either directly or float it on toast. Let stand for 3 weeks then sieve through cheese cloth. Bottle, but don't cork tightly for at least two months. Should stand for six months before using If you don't want to wait six months try quick dandelion wine. Pour one cup white wine over 1 Tbsp. chopped dandelion leaves and let sit for one hour.

There are indeed good things about this weed. Dandelion is a gentle liver tonic and diuretic and grandma made dandelion tonic each spring....she would pour water over fresh leaves and let it stand a few hours and that strain it and "make" us drink it to "clean out the system". When she got a juicer she would mix dandelion.apples and carrots.

Several years ago my Italian friend, Shirley, were talking and I told her about dandelion and she thought it funny. You see her Italian family used dandelion too and she as a little girl used to be afraid their neighbors would think them poor in Long Island, when they were out "harvesting" dandelion from their yards.

Dandelion Salad with Cooked Dressing

4 slices bacon, cut in small pieces
approximately 2 c. chopped new dandelion leaves
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced or chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. cream or milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1/4 c. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour

Toss together chopped dandelion, chopped onion and fried bacon pieces. Set aside. In skillet warm butter and cream until butter melts. Beat egg and then add salt, pepper, vinegar, sugar and flour. Blend the egg mixture into the slightly warm cream mixture. Increase heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Pour hot dressing over the greens and toss gently. Add eggs before tossing. Serve at once. Gather the dandelion leaves early in the spring before the plants flower or they will be bitter.

This is what Shirley told me. It is considered a delicacy in Europe. The long tap roots of the dandelion have a substance in them that is used as a natural laxative. The roots are also roasted and ground, then used as a coffee substitute.

Dandelion Syrup

Now this is the other recipe she gave me. I propose using those bright yellow blooms as a delightful Dandelion Syrup for use over pancakes or waffles. Just make sure they pick them at the middle of the day when they are drier. To make a good supply, you'll need:

4 ea. big handfuls of dandelion tops(flowers)
1/2 ea. lemon, juiced
1 quart cold water
2 lbs. sugar

Place the tops in the water and bring to a slow boil. Let boil half a minute then cool overnight. The next day, strain and push out the excess water. Discard the blooms and save the dandelion water. Mix this water with the lemon and sugar and simmer until most of the water has evaporated. Do not bring to a hard boil.

Let the mixture cool, then simmer again until thick in consistency like maple syrup. This can be poured over flapjacks either warm or cool.

Dandelion Salad Vinaigrette

This is Shirley's recipe for the dressing her grandma made.

Salad Vinaigrette
Makes approximately 2/3 cup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I love oil from Tuscany for its peppery flavor)
3 Tblsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 large peeled and smashed garlic clove
Freshly ground pepper

Put all ingredients into a jar with tight fitting lid. Shake well and let steep at least an hour before use. This will keep under refrigeration for a week. Bring to room temperature before using. You may wish to add a sprig or two of fresh herbs as available. Occasionally substituting fresh squeezed lemon juice for the vinegar makes a pleasant dressing, especially in the summer.

Cooked Dandelion Greens

Cut the roots from the greens and discard. Wash well in cold water. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil and put the greens into the water by the handful. Bring water quickly back to the boil and cook just until wilted, two or three minutes. Drain and run cold water over to stop the cooking. Squeeze as much moisture out as possible. At this point you may wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze for future use, 8 to 10 ounces per package is a useful size.

These greens may be used as a substitute for spinach or Swiss chard in any number of recipes, from ravioli or lasagna fillings to a simple sauté in olive oil with garlic as a side dish.Her grandma used this often as a filling when spinach was called for.

More of Donna's Recipes

Tea Time recipes!
Saffron recipes
Asparagus Memories

 

About The Author

Donna had the privilege of growing up in a Mennonite family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is married and lives in Georgia. Donna has 3 children and 3 grandchildren. She also writes a Column called Cooking with Don, which you can sign up for here and another list called Sites for Learning
 
 

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