Dandelion salad with bacon
This salad, a French classic, is best in springtime when the dandelions first come out, before they flower. Dandelion leaves can be found at outdoor markets in France. Elsewhere, you may have to go out and collect them yourself. I have done this before, and it’s actually fun. Just be sure that the dandelions have not been treated with herbicide.
There are differing version of French dandelion salad. Sometimes eggs are included, sometimes croutons and sometimes both. I prefer just the dandelion leaves and bacon, but have included instructions for these other variants at the bottom of the recipe. The proportions given here serve two as a starter, and one as a main course.
2 generous handfuls dandelion leaves
2-3 ounces (75 g) thick-cut bacon
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sunflower oil or another vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim off the roots and earthy bottoms of the dandelion leaves. Fill a container with water, for example the bottom of a salad spinner or a large bowl. Immerse the leaves in the water to clean them. Remove any dead leaves and extraneous material. Drain thoroughly and immerse for a second time. At this point the leaves should look pretty clean but, to be sure, drain again and immerse them for a third time. Spin dry and place the leaves in the fridge to freshen them while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Chop the bacon into lardons — thick crosswise strips.
Peel the garlic, cut in half lengthwise and mince finely.
Combine the balsamic vinegar and the oils in a large salad bowl. Stir well to create a smooth emulsion. Add a little salt — not too much, because there’s a lot of salt in the bacon — and grind in some black pepper. Add the minced garlic and stir.
Just before you are ready to serve the salad, place the dandelion leaves in the salad bowl over the dressing.
Heat about 1 tsp. olive oil or salad oil to sizzling in a skillet. Add the bacon and sauté, stirring, until it is evenly browned. Drain.
Add the bacon to the salad and toss. Serve immediately, while the bacon is still hot. Serves 1 as a main course, 2 as a starter.
If you would like to include hard-boiled eggs in your salad, boil one egg per person, peel, chop into quarters and add. For poached eggs, poach one egg per person, drain thoroughly and add. And there’s a recipe for herbal croutons here, but for this salad I’d recommend omitting the herbs.