This pesky weed grows through the cracks in the sidewalks and strangles our precious gardens. Sometimes it’s pretty tufts of seeds attract the attention of children who blow them to the wind to make more dandelions.
While dandelions are often seen as a pest, their culinary value is often overlooked. I first fell in love with dandelion weeds at the M Cafe in Los Angeles. The chef, Lee Gross, was Ms Goop’s (Gwyneth Paltrow) personal chef and basically introduced her to the healthy vegan detox lifestyle she now adheres to an promotes. At M Cafe, Lee Gross’s brilliant salads were bright and full of ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily think of putting together. And the best of the salads was the dandelion chickpea one. I’ve tried to replicate it many times over the years and I’ve gotten pretty close. There’s just something so powerful about the mix of bitter dandelion, sweet and sour grapefruit and a healthy dose of chickpeas that feels like crack to your body. Slather that in a tahini-lemon dressing, add fried onions and you’ve got the perfect salad.
Dandelion Chickpea Salad
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 1/2 pound)
1 can chickpeas (rinsed)
1/2 of a large yellow onion, cut into very thin half-moon slices (emphasis on the thin)
about 1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbs sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of orange and grapefruit slices
1. First, caramelize the onions by heating 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small pan. Fry the onions in the hot oil so they caramelize and become slightly crispy, set aside and drain excess oil on a paper-towel lined plate.
2. Assemble the salad by cutting the dandelions into bite sized pieces and mixing with the chickpeas and grapefruit in a large bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and sesame oil. Add more amounts to taste….the sesame oil should be a balancing sweetener to the garlic and the bitter dandelion.
4. Drizzle the dressing over the beans and greens and serve to yourself or your guests.
Curried Lentils with Dandelion
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup red or yellow lentils
2 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped dandelion leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic and cook for two minutes over medium heat. Add the turmeric, cumin, curry powder and chili powder and stir a few times. Cook for another 2 minutes.
2. Add the dry lentils and coat in the spice mixture. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, covered.
3. Add the dandelion leaves, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon salt and continue to cook for 5 minutes at a simmer or until leaves are just cooked.
Sesame Kimchi Dandelion Salad
1 bunch (about 1/2 pound) dandelion weeds, washed and chopped
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup kimchi
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 Whisk the soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil together in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon warm water.
2 Add the chopped dandelion to the bowl and toss to coat.
3. Chop the kimchi into small 1/4-inch pieces and add to dandelion. Toss to combine and sprinkle with sesame seeds.