This dandelion greens recipe is a mix of my love of foraging and my Italian heritage. Spring is finally in full gear, and you are probably getting your hands on some dandelions. I'm excited to show you how to cook dandelion greens in an easy recipe that will change your mind about this wild edible.
Don't let them go to waste! These edible plants are widespread in temperate climates, and I'm sure you have them growing in your backyard.
This is the perfect season for gathering what the Italians call Cicoria or Cichorium intybus. You can prepare them with breadcrumbs and fried eggplant slices to make this delicious Italian dandelion greens recipe.
What is Cicoria?
Italian dandelion greens, also known as cicoria, have a long history as part of the Mediterranean diet since the ancient Greeks and Romans. In modern times, they are cultivated in many Italian regions and appear regularly on menus during the winter months.
Cicoria is an Italian recipe for dandelion greens – a common green that grows in the country and many others worldwide. Dandelion greens may look like a weed, but they can be an attractive addition to dishes and taste great. Cicoria is prized in Italy as an ingredient in salads, pasta dishes, and soups. Cicoria leaves are also frequently pickled.
The tangy leaves are often enjoyed raw in salads or cooked in various ways (sauteed, braised, fried). Foraged dandelion greens (tarassaco) can be found throughout Italy during the spring and summer months. It is not uncommon to see both cultivated and foraged varieties on restaurant menus simultaneously.
Why This Foraged Greens Recipe Works
I love cicoria sauteed with garlic and chili flakes or braised with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. This super easy recipe is similar to preparing it at home when I want something quick and simple but healthy and delicious too!
This dish starts with a few ingredients that you're likely to have on hand but will give a fresh twist to your everyday greens.
If you don't have access to cultivated dandelion greens, you can substitute them with kale, chard, or spinach. Cooking times vary depending on which green you use, so be sure to adjust accordingly - especially if using chard takes longer than kale or spinach to cook down.
The number of garlic cloves you use will depend on how strong you like the taste of garlic. The one cup of garlic cloves in this recipe is enough for me, but you might start with less garlic and add more.
I use freshly-squeezed lemon juice, but you can substitute it with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
I like using California Olive Oil because it has a more robust flavor than other olive oil. You can use regular olive oil instead, though.
I used kosher salt for this recipe because it is easier to measure with my hands, and it dissolves quickly when I toss it into the boiling water.
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
I used about one teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in this recipe, but if you want to make your greens a spicy kick, feel free to add more! I dehydrate my own peppers for crushed red seasoning, but use what you have!
Look for tender young dandelion leaves in spring. They will be the first plants after the ground softens in early spring. You may still find them later in summer and fall, but they'll be tougher and bitter.
After bringing a medium pot of water to boil over high heat, add the whole bunch of dandelion greens and blanch for 2 minutes. They should be a bright green when you remove them from the water. Drain.
Chop the greens into bite-size pieces using a paring knife. In a large skillet, olive oil and heat over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until slightly brown, constantly stirring, for about 1 minute (be careful not to burn the garlic).
Add the chopped dandelions and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper; toss well before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cicoria is also known as wild chicory, broad-leaved endive, dandelion, and escarole. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows on roadsides and in fields and meadows throughout Italy.
The leaves are edible at any growth stage, and the flowers bloom from May through October. The plant's young leaves can be eaten raw, while older leaves require cooking.
To clean cicoria, cut out the base where the leaves meet the root, separate the leaves and wash greens thoroughly under cold running water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels or a salad spinner and cut them into pieces.
The flavors in this recipe are pretty bold, so it goes best with light, neutral-tasting side dishes. Nevertheless, this is an excellent opportunity to serve up some of your favorite vegetables that you don't usually get to eat as the main dish. Cooked zucchini, white beans, and steamed potatoes are all excellent choices.
1. Serve with plain or garlicky mashed potatoes as an alternative to pasta. The potatoes will soak up the sauce nicely, and you can put the meatballs on top.
2. Put the greens in a pan, then make wells in the greens and crack an egg into each well. Add the cover to the pan and cook until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve with crusty bread!
3. Add some cooked orzo, quinoa, rice, or other cooked grains to turn it into a one-dish meal.
Suggestions for Extras
Feel free to customize this dish! If you want more protein, try tossing in a can of cannellini beans or some chickpeas before baking.
Dried herbs would compliment the other flavors in the dish—rosemary, oregano, and thyme would all work well.
Finally, a handful of dried cranberries would add both sweetness and color.
You can make this recipe with just about any pot of greens, but dandelion greens are excellent. You can get a delicious result by cooking another green (chard, spinach) with the dandelion greens.
As an alternative to olive oil, you can use butter or a combination of butter and olive oil. This field garlic butter would be a nice addition to the recipe as well!
You can also flavor these greens with some hot red pepper flakes, sautéed garlic, or a splash of vinegar.
The key is to cook the greens to balance their bitter flavor with other ingredients.
Dandelion leaves and flowers are edible and delicious. The leaves are most commonly used for cooking or making tea (the flower tops can be sprinkled on salads), while the flowers are great for baking into cookies and muffins or deep-frying as fritters.
Cooking dandelion greens increases some of the nutrients by breaking down and activating certain compounds that our bodies can more readily absorb (just like it does with other leafy vegetables)
The part of the dandelion that is most potent is the root.
Dandelion stems and the leaves can be eaten raw.
Cicoria alla Romana (Sauteen Dandelion Greens)
Dandelion greens, referred to as Cicoria in Italian cuisine, are the leaves of the plant Dandelion. The Dandelion plant is a common weed in many countries, but it has been consumed for centuries for its health benefits and culinary uses.
- 1 bunch dandelion greens, about ½ llb
- 1 teaspoon of oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Trim the bottom of the dandelion greens and rinse them in cold water.
- Chop the dandelion greens, keeping the more tender leaves whole (and separate from the tougher stems). The ratio of leaves to stems will vary based on how young or old the plant is — for older plants you might use ¾ leaves and ¼ stems.
- Mince a few garlic cloves.
- Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until shimmering (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add about ¼ cup of minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute, or until lightly golden and fragrant.
- Add the chopped dandelion greens, increase heat to high and sauté for a few minutes, or until wilted but still bright green.
- Season with salt and pepper, then remove from heat and serve immediately!
The dandelion is a hardy weed that grows just about anywhere. You can eat the leaves raw, but they have a bitter taste, so many people prefer to cook them.
The following are three tips for cooking with dandelion greens:
Boil: Boiling the greens softens them and makes them more palatable. Boil them in water with a bit of salt or garlic added for flavor. If you boil them too long they will become mushy and lose their texture, so cook them just until they're tender but not mushy.
Saute: Sauteing the greens in oil brings out their flavor without making them too bitter. Add some garlic and/or onion as you would when sauteing any vegetable. Saute until tender but not mushy, then season with herbs like rosemary or thyme if desired for extra flavor. Serve over rice or pasta for an easy side dish that's full of vitamins and minerals!
Stir-fry: Stir-frying is another way to cook dandelion greens without using much oil at all because it requires only one tablespoon per serving of about two cups of cooked greens mixed with other ingredients (such as tofu). The only
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 129Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 85mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g
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