A few weeks ago, I wrote a column for the Record Newspapers about dandelions and my family’s long association with them. In fact, all the dandelions now growing so happily throughout northern Illinois might be the descendants of plants grown by my pioneer ancestors.
Anyway, in the column I noted that my grandmother used to harvest dandelion greens in the early spring for use at the table. It’s important to get dandelion greens before the plants flower, after which time the greens are not simply sharp tasting, but are downright bitter.
In my family, we served them as a dish similar to wilted lettuce, with a family-concocted sweet/sour sauce served, usually, with some sort of pork product, such as pork chops, pork steak, or ham. I haven’t had dandelion greens for decades, so imagine my surprise when I saw them today for sale in the produce section of our local Meijer store. If I had of a mind to, I could have bought a whole bunch or maybe two to have as the side dish for a meal this week.
If you decide not to click through to the column, here’s the recipe for our family sauce, which works on dandelion greens as well as leaf lettuce as a good compliment for pork:
•One egg, beaten
•1/4 cup vinegar
•1/2 cup half & half
•1/2 cup milk
•2 or 3 slices of bacon, or use pan drippings from pork chops, ham, or pork steak
•Salt and pepper to taste
Cook and dice bacon, retain a small amount of pan drippings, mix in other ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over dandelion greens or leaf lettuce to wilt. Serve as a side dish or (as we do) use the sauce as gravy over potatoes served as part of the meal.
There’s also dandelion wine, but we won’t get into that right now…