Once upon a time there lived an old lady who could be spotted in the weedy, over-grown medians along the busy American Legion Highway, mostly in the bent-over position picking dandelions. No one knew her name, at least none of my people did, but she was well known in town as the Dandelion Lady and apparently had been harvesting the greens for years.
On each trip to Revere my family made it a game to see who could see her first. Would she be on the corner of Emmanuel St or by Blanchard’s? How about further down by Bell Circle? Where ever she was, it was her bottom and never her face, sticking out along the traffic polluted greens. It was thought that maybe she sold them for a living. We don’t know. One year our game came to an end when the Dandelion Lady failed to show, she was gone.
I picked a very special green food for Mr. ROY G. BIV’s middle initial in my Eating a Rainbow Series. I had been reading “A Girl Of The Limberlost” to my Botany students this year and when the character, Mrs. Comstock, whipped up some fresh dandelion greens in bacon for lunch, my students asked if we could make that dish. So being the wise teacher that I am and knowing full well that students would rather risk eating strange things like Dandelion Greens than study, I complied.
The greens are not strange and all my memories of polluted-from-the-side-of-the-road dandelion greens were lost on the very first taste. We made two simple dishes. One was made by frying five pieces of bacon then adding and sauteing the torn greens until tender. We served those with balsamic vinegar. The other was the Dandelion Greens with Warm Bacon Dressing.
Dandelion Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
1 pound tender dandelion greens- from Whole Foods
5 slices organic uncured bacon
2 T. finely chopped shallots
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 T. apple cider vinegar
fresh cracked black pepper
Cut washed greens into 1 1/2 inch lengths, set aside. In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp and remove to a paper towel, cool and break into small pieces. Keep bacon grease warm on stove. While the bacon is cooking, whisk together vinegar, Dijon, and shallots in your salad bowl. Pour hot grease from cooked bacon into the vinegar mixture and whisk. Top with greens and bacon pieces and toss well. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Note- I did not remove the “tough” midribs or stems as we found them to be pleasantly tender-crisp and not tough at all.
PS- My students really enjoyed “A Girl of the Limberlost,” a tale of struggle, integrity, hard work, pain, and a little innocent romance. They enjoyed hearing about the moths, various plants, and nature surrounding the Limberlost Forest. And of course we all want a lunch box like Elnora’s now!