Eat Your Weeds: Dandelion and Grapefruit Salad Recipe

Should you ever find yourself in a field of dandelions, skip the wishing and blowing bit and start harvesting the delicious green leaves for this salad. Most common dandelion leaves are in fact edible and are usually sold in bunches at Farmer’s Markets and health food stores.

If dandelions are taking over your garden, the best way to remove them is just to rip them out, no pesticides necessary. If you’re going to harvest your own dandelions, farmers say to do so in early spring or late fall but don’t just pick any old weeds off the street, make sure you are certain they are clean and pesticide-free.

Dandelions have a lot of negative associations: as weeds, as pests, and as being too bitter to eat.

It’s a shame that dandelion greens have been stamped as a “bitter green” and are often blanched or boiled to a mush before they are served. Sure, dandelions are BITTER but isn’t there are kinder, less mean word to describe their unique flavor? How about tart or pungent? Finally these crunchy, flavorful and nutritious greens get to shine in this salad with grapefruit and fried onions. Don’t worry, the sweetness of the grapefruit and the crunch of fried onions complement and neutralize any excessive bitterness.

Why eat them? Dandelions are especially high in calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C and the roots are believed to have powerful liver cleansing abilities, though no controlled study has proven this. Dandelions are often found in traditional Greek cooking and go very well with Mediterranean flavors like lemon and sesame. In traditional Greek Horta, leafy greens are steamed or boiled with vinegar and coated with lemon juice.

This salad is filled with Mediterranean goodness like chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and fresh fruit. I make this salad at least once a month because it’s easy, lasts for days and is miraculously filling. It has everything a truly great salad should have: a solid source of protein, fresh and bright leaves, fruit, some crunch and a tangy dressing. I’ve come to associate this recipe with detoxing because I first had something similar at M Café in Los Angeles, a restaurant whose head chef is Lee Gross, former personal chef to Miss Goop herself: Gwyneth Paltrow.

Dandelion and Grapefruit Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing and Fried Onions 

For the salad:
1 bunch of fresh dandelion weeds (about 4 cups of chopped leaves)
1 grapefruit
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed (or 1 teaspoon canned crushed garlic)
1 pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Carefully wash and dry the dandelion leaves and cut off most of the stems (about 6 inches). Set aside in a large bowl. Peel and chop the grapefruit into small pieces and add to the bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add ½ the onions in a single layer and fry for 2 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to carefully flip the onions so they get crispy on both sides and cook for another 2 minutes until they just start to burn. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and repeat until all are fried.

In a small jar with a lid, combine the tahini, olive oil, sesame oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously until the ingredients are completely blended.

Add the chickpeas to the bowl with the dandelion and grapefruit and toss with the dressing just before serving and add a small handful of fried onions on top.

Author Bio: Ally-Jane Grossan is an editor and food writer in Brooklyn, NY. Her recipes and food adventures can be found at Ally-Jane.com.