Eating a Rainbow- Green: Dandelion Greens

Once upon a time there lived an old lady who could be spotted in the weedy, over-grown medians along the busy American Legion Highway, mostly in the bent-over position picking dandelions. No one knew her name, at least none of my people did, but she was well known in town as the Dandelion Lady and apparently had been harvesting the greens for years.

On each trip to Revere my family made it a game to see who could see her first. Would she be on the corner of Emmanuel St or by Blanchard’s? How about further down by Bell Circle? Where ever she was, it was her bottom and never her face, sticking out along the traffic polluted greens. It was thought that maybe she sold them for a living. We don’t know. One year our game came to an end when the Dandelion Lady failed to show, she was gone.

I picked a very special green food for Mr. ROY G. BIV’s middle initial in my Eating a Rainbow Series. I had been reading “A Girl Of The Limberlost” to my Botany students this year and when the character, Mrs. Comstock, whipped up some fresh dandelion greens in bacon for lunch, my students asked if we could make that dish. So being the wise teacher that I am and knowing full well that students would rather risk eating strange things like Dandelion Greens than study, I complied.

The greens are not strange and all my memories of polluted-from-the-side-of-the-road dandelion greens were lost on the very first taste. We made two simple dishes. One was made by frying five pieces of bacon then adding and sauteing the torn greens until tender. We served those with balsamic vinegar. The other was the Dandelion Greens with Warm Bacon Dressing.

Here are my students enjoying (and clowning around a little with) their edible lesson.

Dandelion Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
1 pound tender dandelion greens- from Whole Foods
5 slices organic uncured bacon
2 T. finely chopped shallots
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 T. apple cider vinegar
fresh cracked black pepper

Cut washed greens into 1 1/2 inch lengths, set aside. In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp and remove to a paper towel, cool and break into small pieces. Keep bacon grease warm on stove. While the bacon is cooking, whisk together vinegar, Dijon, and shallots in your salad bowl. Pour hot grease from cooked bacon into the vinegar mixture and whisk. Top with greens and bacon pieces and toss well. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Note- I did not remove the “tough” midribs or stems as we found them to be pleasantly tender-crisp and not tough at all.

Related Posts:
Eating a Rainbow- Red: Grape Salad
Eating a Rainbow- Orange: Warm Yam and Chickpea Salad
Eating a Rainbow- Yellow: Platanos Fritos

PS- My students really enjoyed “A Girl of the Limberlost,” a tale of struggle, integrity, hard work, pain, and a little innocent romance. They enjoyed hearing about the moths, various plants, and nature surrounding the Limberlost Forest. And of course we all want a lunch box like Elnora’s now!


  1. Penny
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    What an interesting post. Your students are fortunate to have such a creative teacher. The recipes sound great.

  2. Jeff
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

    Way to expose them to something new!!! I love dandelion greens and always sad when my neighbors spray their yards to kill them off 🙁

  3. Sabrina
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    Great teaching. I know your students will always remember this lesson. I will try your dressing.

  4. unconfidentialcook
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

    I love dandelion greens…but warm bacon dressing????…that would work on just about everything. Spoonalicious!

  5. Grace
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    i'm not sure i could eat dandelion greens, UNLESS bacon was involved. it's the cure for many ills. 🙂

  6. That Girl
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    Dandelion greens, mustard greens, collard greens – pass them all my way!

  7. Sara
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

    I love dandelion greens! My husband eats them as long as I don't tell him what they are – he's a little weirded out about the idea of eating weeds 🙂

  8. biz319
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    This is one way to eat greens – with bacon!!

    I will have to seek these out next time I am at the store – I've never tried them before!

  9. Tammy
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

    What a great way to make the reading come alive! Your students will probably remember that lesson forever. My daughter read Limberlost last year and loved it. She downloaded the entire book for free from librivox and still listens to it from time to time.

  10. Debbie
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 5:37 PM | Permalink

    oh…I've read "A Girl of the Limberlost". Just a few years ago. I loved it.
    I've never had dandilion greens, but I love most greens. Love bacon…

  11. Lucy
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    Love, love dandelion greens and I too remember the Ladies picking them around town, I don't however. I grow them 😉 Your students look like they're really enjoying them! Kudos!!

  12. Karen
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    Those are some lucky kids to have a teacher like you! Reminds me of my daughter's elementary school years in a small Lutheran school. Her 2nd grade teacher spoke Russian, so the kids learned to count. My dau is 27 now and still knows how to count to 10 in Russian!

  13. Laurie
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

    Robin Sue, You are a wise and wonderful teacher! Great experiment and getting kids to eat greens – priceless.

    I've never tried dandelion greens, but now I want to. I grew up in New York state where dandelions were plentiful. Not so much on sandy Cape Cod, but I'll be on the lookout.

  14. Jenn@slim-shoppin
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    I can totally picture that dandelion lady!!

    I've never made that before, so I will have to try that soon!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe, it sounds like your students really liked it!

  15. Maria
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    I love greens of all kinds! Your students are super cute!

  16. Anonymous
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

    The story Robin told about the old lady was true. She walked from E. Boston to Revere which is quite a few miles. (about 10 plus) We do not think she ever took the bus or the subway. Her face was dark and weathered and quite wrinkly from being exposed to the elements. When I was a little girl 60 years ago is when we noticed this lady who looked like to me as a little girl, a gypsy. We believe she sold the greens to the vegetable marketplace. That was not the only thing she picked for it seems to me she was busy summer and winter. One thing we did not mention was that she was our neighbor from E. Boston. She never talked to anyone but she was a sweet lady who had quite a few kids. Maybe this was her way of making extra money to put food on the table. Ma

  17. Kevin
    Posted June 21, 2009 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    have not tried dandelion greens yet but serving them with bacon has got my attention!

  18. Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:37 AM | Permalink

    This is old PA Dutch early spring tonic. When I was a kid in the 1950s, Dandelion greens were dug out of the ground as soon as they appeared, right after the snow disappeared. They were best collected from a pasture, and not from along the roads or any place that might have been sprayed with pesticides! The greens will turn bitter once the buds start to form. You can batter dip the yellow flowers or use them for dandelion wine. I’m told the roots can be dried and used for a hot beverage (but I never tried that). My hot bacon dressing is a little different, but yours sounds tasty, too. We served the wilted greens over fried potatoes with bacon and hard cooked eggs on top! Yum!

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