When I was a baby, we lived in a Chicago neighborhood where the fences between the homes were made of rows of flowers, and dandelion greens grew freely. It became our custom to pull the tender baby greens and cook them. They were so good that even though we moved to Arizona, my parents still reminisced about having dandelions growing rampantly in the yard.
Once dandelion greens mature, they tend to taste bitter. Most recipes call for cooking them with bacon drippings or bacon and eggs. Just like collards, mustards, kale or other bitter greens, the pungent flavor remains, but is balanced by adding fat and/or meat, as well as acidic liquids such as vinegar, and a spicy element such as hot sauce.
Why cook bitter greens if they aren’t pleasing to the palate? In the case of dandelion greens, the reasons are clear. Dandelions provide a green that is 14% protein, and since all the amino acids are present, their protein is complete. Protein helps to create the feeling of satiation. They are also high in calcium, iron, manganese and other minerals, have shown to be beneficial against cataracts and macular degeneration and have anti-inflammatory properties. Low in calories, these greens are known as a potent liver detoxifier, and are recommended as a detox smoothie ingredient frequently. They may also help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
In my sauteuse, I melted a tablespoon of organic coconut oil and added my washed organic dandelion greens. Once they had cooked down a bit, I decided that they also needed a touch of butter. I kept tasting as I cooked because I wasn’t sure what I was going to put in them to cut the bitterness, and as I tasted, those decisions became much easier to make. The results were so good, I was pulling long strands of dandelion out of the pan and eating them as a snack.
1 bunch organic dandelion greens
1 heaping tbsp. organic coconut oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 large cloves fresh garlic, crushed and then chopped
4-5 splashes of Cholula or other Mexican hot sauce (Tapatio,Valentina, El Pato) or Thai sriracha sauce
1 oz. crumbled cotija cheese
1. Wash the bunch of dandelion greens and pat dry.
2. In a sautuese or non-stick skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.
3. Add the dandelion greens and stir frequently as they cook down to fit completely in the pan.
4. Once the greens have softened some, add the butter and vinegar. Continue to stir frequently to ensure that all of the greens cook and are coated evenly.
5. Crush two cloves of garlic to release oils and infuse more flavor into each piece by pressing down on top of the cloves with the handle of a steak knife or other large-handled knife. Remove the peelings and chop the garlic into small pieces.
6. Add the garlic and hot sauce to the pan. Continue to stir frequently as the greens cook for 1-2 more minutes.
7. Add the crumbled cotija cheese. Cook until the cotija spreads and browns slightly. It will not melt.
8. Remove the skillet from the heat source. Let the greens cool for a few minutes before serving.
9. Enjoy as a side dish or snack.
Note: If you eat or must eat gluten-free, please check the vinegar you use because most do contain wheat or possible contamination.