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.
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)
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Turn off the heat and wait 3-4 minutes for the dressing to cool – it should be still warm but not hot.|
|Add the cubed bread to the dandelion greens, then pour over the pancetta dressing, mix and serve.|