Ahhh, the first dandelions of spring. They are always the hardiest, lushest of the spring growth, ready to put out a tentative blossom at the first hint of sun and warmth.
To some, they are a curse, impossible to eradicate from an otherwise perfect lawn, to me, they are just a another plant that is good to eat!
The common French name is Pisenlit, literally pis=piss, en lit=in bed...piss in bed!
Why such a rude name? Because they are a gentle diuretic, the leaves and roots stimulate the kidneys to cleanse the blood and recycle nutrients. Unlike pharmeceutical diuretics, dandelions don't leach potassium from the body. Clear skin and improved general health are a reason why dandelions are eaten as a spring tonic by the people in the country. In markets, you can buy big dandelions all season.
In the spring, though, the plants are best before they flower. The dandelion is related to chicory, endives, batavias, salsify and lettuces. They have a mild bitter flavor.
A classic salad is the leaves with a mild mustard vinagrette with toasted croutons.
The basic vinagrette is 3 parts oil to one of wine vinegar and a little dijon or stone ground mustard. Salt and pepper to taste.
A more substantial salad is made with sauteed lardons, vinagrette and dandelion greens. A substitute for lardons would be chopped pieces of smoked bacon.
Today for lunch, we had a salad of mache, which is like baby spinach, dandelions, a dressing of a little mustard, cream and vinegar with walnuts. Yesterday a salad of endives, apple slices and dandelions...
At this rate, I won't have to mow the lawn!