Yes, the French even eat flower leaves, as do ruminants, and they have a good reason because it contains many valuable nutrients. I guess the taste was acquired by foragers in times of poverty and famine but even in our times of abundance and heavy diets the leaves are wonderful for the body.
The name stems from ‘Dents de Lion’, lions teeth, due to the ragged sides to the leaves. In France the name Dandelion is nowadays reserved to the little yellow flowers that you see in the fields as soon as the sun takes some strength in spring. Special flower-less dandelion vegetable is named ‘pisenlit’ (piss in bed) because of their slightly diuretic effect.
The leaves contain beta-carotene, iron, calcium, vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.
The leaves have a bitter taste, a bit like chicory, and while they can be eaten entirely raw they improve with some heating.
Here, I made a salad with shallots and vinegar and presented them with pork chops.
- 200 grammes of dandelion
- Three shallots
- Three tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used Vinaigre de Reims)
- Four tablespoons olive oil
- Two pork chops
- A glass of white wine
- White pepper, optional salt
- Wash the dandelions, remove dark bits, cut off the butts, was again and dry in a spinner or in paper towels.
- Put the dandelions in a heat resistant bowl and keep in the oven at low temperature (I heated the oven to 50 °C then turned down to 20 °C).
- Slice up the shallots.
- Put half the oil in a frying pan and start cooking the chops, turning every three/four minutes for a total of 15 minutes, adding pepper at the last turns (and salt to taste if needed).
- Meanwhile, put the remaining olive oil in another skillet and fry the shallots.
- Remove the shallots from the pan and add to the dandelions, add vinegar to the skillet and reduce the liquid to a two tablespoons. Pour over the salad and toss.
- After 15 minutes of cooking, add white wine, turn up the heat and turn the chops regularly for another three to five minutes.
- Put the chops on top of the salad, reduce the wine to two tablespoons and add this over the chops and salad.