First things first: Dandelion greens are a member of the sunflower family and consist of leaves, yellow flowers, and bulb. They're considered one of the bitter greens, and can be used anytime you're making something that calls for a sturdier green like kale or chard. I love sauteeing them with a little garlic and red chile flakes or using them in a simple green salad for lunch.
The trick is to recognize your affinity for that characteristic peppery flavor and adjust accordingly. For example, I mix them in with other gentler greens (spinach or red leaf lettuce) so as to impart just a little bite without overwhelming the entire salad.
Do know that these greens, in particular, have some pretty agressive stems. So make sure to wash the leaves and trim the stems away. You can also roast and eat the dandelion root, and the flowers are edible as well. Make syrups out of them, sprinkle them on salads as a garnish, or add to muffins or other pastry recipes. If bitterness isn't your thing, I do like to parboil the leaves quickly to take some of the bite off. Other folks I've talked to insist that dandelion greens love fat - it smooths out some of the inherent bite from the greens. This explains why you'll see so many dandelion greens combined with bacon. Or cheese.
Regardless of what you do with them, they're incredibly nutritious and an interesting foray into the world of greens beyond kale. We could all use a little more of that.
A Little Dandelion Green Inspiration:
• Dandelion Greens Pesto - David Lebovitz (pictured above)
• Wilted Dandelion Greens with Bacon and Toasted Mustard Seed - Nourished Kitchen
• Dandelion Greens with Currants and Pine nuts - Sunset
• Dried Fava with Potato Puree and Dandelion Greens - Bon Appetit
• Salmon with Lentils, Bacon and Dandelion Greens - L.A. Times
Related: Linguine with Mussels and Dandelions
(Image: David Lebovitz)