Region: Italy, Campania
Difficulty: Easy and Quick
This is a recipe my grandfather Raffaele DeYeso would make for himself. He just called it “dandelion.” My mother tells me the story of how her father, who was from a small village in southern Italy and who immigrated to America in 1912, would take her as a little girl on the IRT subway up to Pelham Bay from their apartment in Manhattan to pick wild dandelions in the spring of the late 1920's. The common lawn dandelion is a delicious green, but it must be picked, root and all, when the leaves are young and before any flower or bud appears. You must also be careful that pesticide has not been sprayed on the lawn and you should never pick dandelions near roadways (where unfortunately they are just begging to be picked) because of automobile exhaust.
This bitter green is used in salads or cooked with olive oil and prosciutto. The dandelion sold in the market is cultivated, making for longer, tender leaves. The bitter taste of dandelion, which I love on its own, is also a natural accompaniment to a rich dish.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 2 servings
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch dandelion (about 3/4 pound), bottom quarter of stems removed, washed and shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat and when the butter melts add the garlic and the dandelion. Cook until the dandelion wilts and the water evaporates, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.