The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 06.02.08


Can't beat 'em? Eat 'em

I just have to mention our dreaded Dandelions (dents de lion, jagged leaves resembling a lions tooth), otherwise known as Pissenlits au Quebec. Translation? Piss-in-the-beds in English, or Piss-a-beds in Newfoundland, on account of their diuretic effect when eaten by French and English alike.
Most folks do not view these simple flowers as food, but those in the know readily enjoy the leaves, and on occasion, the flowers and the roots themselves. There is no local shortage as you may have noticed and yes, they are in season. Cheap too. Very cheap, as in free.
They have spread their yellow glory all over the neighborhood, and they are pretty enough, but letŐs just say they have taken over. Shall the lowly "Dandy" reign supreme and oust the maple leaf as Canada's proudest symbol, I wonder? Never I say -- if we can just eat enough of them.
There are a couple of really good things you can do with these flowery eats. You can make delicious salads using some well-washed leaves, or mix them in to any regular garden salad for a peppery accent. If you haven't noticed, there have been many pickers at roadside gathering wild salad ingredients this spring.
As is often the case, bacon, Mother Nature's other essential ingredient, goes well with anything and especially dandelion greens. Help rid your lawn of these seasonal devils and have a great healthy snack while doing it. You can eat the yellow heads too I'm told, (Dandelion Tempura anyone?) but that's for another column.
Dandelion Greens with Bacon

2 tablespoons (30mL) olive oil
1/2 lb. (227gm) best slab bacon you can find cut into 1/2-inch (1.27cm) cubes or regular bacon chopped
1 tablespoon (15mL) chopped shallot
4 cups (946mL) torn dandelion leaves, washed, and dried
1/4-cup (60 mL) top-quality red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon (5mL) Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the olive oil in a skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the bacon and cook slowly until it is crisp all over, 10 minutes or more. Add the shallot and cook a minute or two longer, until the shallot softens. Keep the bacon warm in the skillet.

Heat a salad bowl by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for a minute. Dry it and toss in the greens. Add the vinegar and mustard to the skillet, and bring just to a boil, stirring. Pour the liquid and the bacon over the greens, season to taste (it shouldn't need much salt), and serve immediately.

Wilted Lettuce Salad

5 slices bacon
2 tablespoons (30mL) red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon (15mL) lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5mL) white sugar
1/2-teaspoon (2.5mL) ground black pepper
1 head leaf lettuce - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups (473mL) torn dandelion leaves, washed, and dried
6 green onions with tops, thinly sliced

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove from skillet, crumble and set aside.

To the hot bacon drippings, add the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and pepper. Stir over medium heat until hot.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce and green onions. Add the warm dressing and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle with bacon and serve.