I developed a surprise liking for dandelion greens last summer in Italy. I ordered the sauteed greens on the menu at a pizzeria, and a plate of greenish grey cooked leafy greens arrived on a plate smothered in olive oil. The unappealing looks were deceiving, as what appeared to be overcooked greens were absolutely delicious. I looked through the leafy greens available at the grocery store and determined I had eaten cicoria, Italian dandelion. I bought the cicoria and tried to lightly saute them with garlic and was not able to replicate the deliciousness I had at the local pizzeria.
I was reluctant to try dandelion greens at home, as they looked a bit different, and I got over my reservations. I also learned that they need to be lightly boiled in salted water to mellow the bitter flavour. Squeezing the cooked greens removes excess water and allows for a better saute. Dandelion greens can be delicious without overcooking, the secret is to be generous with the olive oil and lemon. In addition to being delicious, dandelion greens are a source of vitamins A, C and K, iron and calcium.
1 bunch dandelion greens, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 clove of garlic, sliced
Olive oil to your taste, probably a minimum of one tablespoon
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add dandelion greens and return to a boil for a minute or two. Rinse with cool water in a colander. Once greens are cool, squeeze excess water with your hands.
In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until it starts to brown slightly. Add dandelion greens and cook until warmed through and thoroughly coated with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.