Easy and Elegant Life

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Organic Greens in Your Backyard, Square with Flair™

[Editor’s Note: I’ve always been tempted to try this, especially as a first course followed by a grilled sweet fish like trout. Simple, elegant and easy to do. More things should be as uncomplicated as SWF’s dandelion salad. Have you ever tried one?]


Did you know that you probably have some organic salad greens growing in your garden? The humble and ubiquitous dandelion can be made into a gourmet starter course in minutes, something many Europeans take advantage of every spring.

Here is the very easy recipe:

Dandelion and Tomato Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Select tender, early spring dandelion greens from a field or lawn that hasn’t been sprayed.

Wash and remove thick ends of the stems from the leaves. Gently pat with paper towels, or air-dry them. Use small leaves or cut larger ones into 1″ pieces and garnish with thin tomato wedges. The younger the leaves are, the more tender they are, and so, tend to wilt. They should be refrigerated or used promptly. If you only have a few leaves, they make a lovely garnish on a plate or serving platter.

Drizzle with a vinaigrette made of 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 wine and vinegar mixture, and 1/3 fresh orange juice, plus ground pepper, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar.

The salad is ever so slightly bitter, and is best served as a starter.


9 thoughts on “Organic Greens in Your Backyard, Square with Flair™

  1. Hello Mr. O’Connell, Great minds! Foraging isn’t new and it doesn’t surprise me that in this era of the new “victory garden” people are saving some money by growing their own food. I have many friends who hunt and fish, too. The funny thing is I considered writing the same article after weeding some tree wells outside the manse. But the sight of passing dogs put me off my lunch.

  2. Best to select delectable greens from your backyard where one need not worry about compromised purity. Dandelions are so plentiful, you have the option of selecting them from only the most pristine situation. As for those who question the sanity of foraging for wild mushrooms, greens, blueberries, fraises de bois, and other delectables from the countryside, you probably have a better chance of them being untouched by human hands and chemicals than anything from the supermarket. And remember, those rare things from the woods will likely set you back the biggest bucks when ordered at the chic-est Manhattan eatery, and the portion size will leave you wanting more (until you see your charge card statement!).

  3. It’s called “Cicoria” in Italy. Hickory, maybe. Bolied, steamed, fried in a pan pan with garlic and red pepper, and olive oil…it’s a typical roman dish. I live on it. The more bitter, the better. Should you visit the eternal city, the dandelion growing amongst the ruins, particularly the Colosseum, is the absolute best. But you’ll have to fight off the little old ladies who usually get it first. On the bright side, they’d probably be happy to cook some up for you!

  4. as two vegan friends of mine found out recently, you can’t smoke (or eat) the grass…they planted tomatoes in their side yard. great, except it was right on top of their termite protection, and poisons were leaching into the tomato bed…

    if you’ve fertilized your lawn or put down pesticides, your lawn, front or back, is a poison plot.

    dandelion greens are safe to eat only after you have isolated a plant for several months in a pot, or started it from those fluffy seeds in new soil.

    a safe and clean tomato and dandelion salad is lovely. enjoy-carefully.

  5. Dear Bagelbrook,

    Thank you so much for this helpful information. It is thoughtful of you to consider the health of others and take the time to write.

    In the city I live in, chemical fertilizers and pesticides have been outlawed as of this year. Finally! Although there is much work to be done, there is a much heightened awareness, and we can finally get our gardens off drugs!

    Excellent suggestion of yours to grow them, so easily in pots, from the fluffy seeds.

    You are to be commended for being aware of these things, and helping to inform others about it.

  6. The Midwest is insect paradise. None of us would have lawns, golf courses, or roses without a few well-chosen products to combat the little creatures. But everyone tries hard to use in moderation–like alcohol. Dandelions flourish in the heat of summer. Having grown up looking at them and viewing them as persistent weeds, I just can’t warm up to eating them. In lieu of a Victory Garden, weekly farmer’s markets are a good alternative. Or Whole Foods (i.e., Whole Paycheck, as my husband likes to refer to it). Our garden consists of tomatoes and a very large basket of herbs. All we need is fresh mozzarella and a bottle of good olive oil . . . rather than cultivating an array of vegetables, I spend my time pruning boxwood and yew.

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