Dente de Leone — Cicorino
I love spring’s baby dandelion greens! The name of this familiar weed comes from dente de leone, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’, describing its characteristic jagged-edged, bright green leaves. Dandelion leaves have a bitter, peppery, slightly astringent flavor, and can be cooked or used raw in salads. After a winter of heavy foods, dandelion is considered to be a medicinal plant for its tonic, diuretic and purgative action. It is very nutritious-high in vitamin A, vitamin C and iron, while low in calories, fat and cholesterol. Lucky are those who can dig them right in their backyards!
Selection: Look for crisp, bright green leaves; avoid those with yellowing, browning tips. If picked in the wild, pick the plant before it flowers.
Storage (use this method for all your greens): Cut off the tough bottom stems/roots and wash in several changes of cold water. Swish around to dislodge the sand that always attaches to the greens. Drain and remove as much water as possible by spinning in a salad spinner. Then wrap the greens in one or two sheets of dry paper towel to absorb excess moisture and store in a zip-top plastic bag. Be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible as this will greatly improve the storage life. Refrigerate in the crisper compartment of the refrigerator.
Below are some of my favorite dandelion dishes–enjoy!
Oh, by the way–OO is my quick way of typing olive oil–extra virgin, of course!