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Dandelion heart salad

Winter dandelion

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded a free copy of The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook, and it inspired me to try cooking not just the leaves, but also the "hearts" of this often-overlooked wild food.  In retrospect, I think the author was really talking about harvesting the heart of the dandelion in very early spring, when flowers are forming in the upper, central part of the root, but my method of just whittling away the woodier parts of the outer root (third photo) and roasting the center tasted great.  I'll look forward to comparing the flavor of flower-filled dandelion hearts in a couple of months.

Here's my on-the-fly recipe for winter dandelion-heart salad

  • Soaking dried tomatoes3 slices of bacon
  • 1 sweet potato
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oil
  • 2 cups of dandelion greens
  • hearts from those dandelion plants
  • 1 clump of wild garlic (or you can use 1 Egyptian onion or 1 leek.  In case you don't know, wild garlic is often found growing wild in weedy lawns in our area, and the whole plant is edible.)
  • 0.5 cups of dried tomatoes, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water and cut into chunks.  (The image above shows the tomatoes soaking, pre-cutting.)
  • balsamic vinegar
Wild greens

Preheat the oven to 350 and put the bacon on a tray to start baking.  Meanwhile, cut the sweet potato into bite-size wedges, toss with oil, salt, and pepper, and lay out on another tray to bake.

Dandelion heart saladWhen the bacon is slightly crisp, remove it from the heat and divide the grease into two parts.  One part stays in the pan to cover the dandelion hearts and wild garlic, which will roast as the sweet potatoes finish baking.  The rest of the bacon grease, plus some balsamic vinegar, greases the pan in which you saute the dandelion greens, cooking on high until they're tender.

Once the sweet potatoes, wild garlic, and dandelion hearts are al dente, remove them from the oven and add to the dandelion greens.  Break up the bacon and stir it into the pot as well, mix, and serve the salad warm.  This recipe makes a hefty side for two people, but chances are there won't be any left over.

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Ahh, dandelions. Just a dream of spring under all the cold, frozen earth.
Comment by Elizabeth Tue Dec 24 10:48:46 2013
I've eaten the blossoms fresh-picked and I think they would be great in a salad. I remember reading once that French people often had some dandelion clumps growing in their cellars all winter.
Comment by adrianne Tue Dec 24 11:58:54 2013
this was delicious! I forgot the balsamic vinegar and it was still yummy. This is my first time cooking with dandelion greens. Thank you!
Comment by Anonymous Wed Apr 16 22:24:58 2014

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