Dandelion Salad with Balsamic Strawberries and Onions
Here’s a favorite recipe from the archives all prettied up for late spring and early summer. I love how nature looks out for chefs by readying ingredients that go well together at the same moment. Dandelion greens and strawberries are a perfect example, and they’re helped along in this simple but succulent salad by a dose of slow-cooked red onions and balsamic vinegar. Original text follows, first published here in 2010.
Growing up in suburban New Jersey, I thought of dandelions as free entertainment to be called upon when I’d used up all the blowing bubbles from the latest birthday party goodie bag. My parents thought of them as a lawn-yellowing nuisance and a prime target for a quick spritz of Roundup. We didn’t agree on much where dandelions were concerned, but we all knew one thing for sure. Dandelions were not a food.
(It’s probably a good thing, too, given the whole Roundup situation. But that’s neither here nor there nor the least bit organic.)
As you might imagine, the dandelions kept me pretty busy. But believe it or not, I managed to reserve some mental space to think about other important topics as well. Chief among them: the wide-eyed wanderlust of the young and closely guarded. It was almost hard to fathom what spectacular European city I’d settle in, what brilliant, far-flung company I’d keep, what pristine, cultivated vegetables I would perhaps deign to eat.
Hard to fathom, indeed. Especially now, having recently returned to the New Jersey suburbs and—not even so recently anymore—discovered the distinctly uncultivated pleasures of eating dandelion greens in the springtime.
Dandelion is among the more assertive of the bitter salad greens, but its fairly delicate shape and texture keep it friendlier than you might suspect. It pairs nicely with other strong flavors in different taste categories, such as salty and savory bacon or anchovy, or, as in this salad, sweet strawberries, caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar.
Even when you buy dandelion in the supermarket, it tends to arrive with a goodly amount of soil still in tow, so be sure to wash it well. As with other such greens we’ll encounter as the season progresses, submerge and agitate them in several changes of water, then dry thoroughly.
Talk to you soon.