pancetta dandelion salad

In this salad, bitter dandelion greens contrast wonderfully with salty, decadent, almost crispy pancetta. And, the garlic-infused tangy dressing makes them just… Irresistible.

I just love the bitter, distinctive taste of dandelions. And knowing that they are a super healthy food makes them even more appetizing to me.

Whenever I have time, I take a hike with kids and collect as many leaves as I can. Look around you, dandelions are everywhere and are treated as weeds by your gardeners! I am lucky enough that my grocery store and local farmers market carry them too, so they appear very often on our table.

dandelion

wild vs store-bought dandelions

I have already spoken about the many benefits of this plant, and shared a wonderful salad made with capers and eggs, as it is traditional in Piedmont.

Here is another salad that I am completely in love with, and it originates from the Italian Alps. I have crazy cravings for it, and so does my husband. Yesterday I made it again as a final test before publishing the recipe, and today I received a text from him saying “Can we have the same salad tonight? Can you just make A LOT MORE of it?” So I guess tonight is dandelion salad again, friends!

If you need to substitute for the dandelions, think of a vegetable with similar assertive taste: arugula works well, as well as radicchio or chicory. And, yes, you may substitute bacon for the pancetta.

For this appetizer salad, the most tender dandelion leaves, which you can pick in springtime, are best. But the store-bought ones will just be fine, too.

Add over-easy eggs on top, maybe cooked in the same skillet as the pancetta, and you will have a great main course. (I know, my friends, you are thinking about brunch. I am Italian, so I have to think twice before suggesting you to serve a salad in the morning, but sure… brunch it shall be!)

Prep and Total time: 15 minutes

Serves 4 (appetizer or side)

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 oz. dandelion leaves, cleaned (a store-bought bunch, which is usually about 9-10 oz. before cleaning)
  • 4-5 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 slices of bread (I prefer white or whole wheat crusty bread, but any non-sweetened bread would work)
  • 4 eggs (optional)

Tools:

  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Salad bowl
  • 10-inch non-stick skillet or sauté pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Toaster
  • Ginger grater
 ingredients dandelion
If you don’t have a toaster, heat the oven to 450°F.Wash and clean the dandelions. If they are store-bought, remove the hardest part of the stem (about 2 inches), and then slice it crosswise into 1-inch, bite-size pieces. Toss into the salad bowl.  dandelions trimming
Cook the cubed pancetta over medium-low heat for about 6-7 minutes, until the fat is mostly melted and the pancetta has acquired a nice golden color.Meanwhile, using a toaster, slightly toast your bread slices until they are golden yellow. If you do not have a toaster, bake in the oven at 450°F for about 6 minutes.When the bread is ready, cube. pancetta
Grate the garlic clove. If you do not have a grater similar to the one in the photo (it’s actually a ginger grater…), mince it instead.  garlic grater
When the pancetta is ready, lower the heat and add the extra-virgin olive oil and garlic. Stir and add the salt and vinegar. Raise the heat to high, and let evaporate for about 1 ½ minute, until it’s reduced to about 1/2 of the initial quantity.  vinegar pancetta
Turn off the heat and wait 3-4 minutes for the dressing to cool – it should be still warm but not hot.  dressing dandelions
 Add the cubed bread to the dandelion greens, then pour over the pancetta dressing, mix and serve.  pancetta dandelions salad
dandelion pancetta egg

Add an over-easy egg on top if you’d like… Buon Appetito!

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