Adapted from The Grass Roots Cookbook
Eating your weeds may seem odd, but recent years have seen the revival of the age-old practice of foraging. Dandelions are a great place to start. You can them raw or cooked. They make a great salad or side, can be added to soups and sandwiches—heck, you can even make wine, tea, or jelly out of it. Dandelions and nettle grow right in my back yard, so it’s entirely too convenient to go out and harvest fresh ingredients for this medley of greens. This dish is only slightly bitter–a nice counterpoint to an entrée with sweet notes. It’s taste is wholesome and complex, green with a kick of that peppery bitterness and bathed in the richness of the bacon fat.
Several caveats: first, if you’re picking the dandelion greens yourself, aim for the younger, tenderer leaves (these will be bright green), which are less bitter, and make sure you’re harvesting from a pesticide-free area. In addition, realize that the key to making this recipe successfully is to wash the dandelion greens well and treat them properly to make sure that they’re palatable.
7 cups dandelion greens, roughly chopped
7 cups mixed greens, roughly chopped (such as nettle, turnip or mustard greens, or spinach)
2 TBSP salt, plus more to taste
4 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Get a large pot of salted water on the stove to bring to a boil. While you’re waiting, fill your (clean) kitchen sink or a very large basin with lukewarm water and add the greens, gently lifting them and letting them sink into the water so that the dirt and grit sink to the bottom. Lift the greens out and drain the water. Repeat this process another one or two times—you want to really take the time to do this, because a gritty salad is very unappetizing. Finally, refill the sink or basin with water one more time, add two TBSP salt, and put the greens back in. Let them soak in the salt water for 10-15 minutes, then drain.
Add the greens to the large pot of boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow to drain well, getting as much of the water out of the greens as possible (I recommend also blotting with paper towels).
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add the bacon; cook until the bacon is crispy, then remove to a paper towel to drain; set aside.
Add the greens to the fat that has rendered from the bacon in the skillet. You want to sauté them just enough to heat them through. Add the bacon back to the skillet and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve hot alongside your favorite main dish, such as Pork and Mushrooms in a Honey and Mustard Sauce.