In this salad, slightly bitter dandelion teams up with green asparagus, and meets fruity pear, physalis and nuts. A dressing of lemon and chilli combines the unique aromas to create a work of art. On a side note, this vitamin-rich salad tastes most delicious when the dandelion is freshly picked.Jump to Recipe
The love of simplicity
My grandmother taught me how to identify edible plants in meadows and forests. Nonna Nina was a woman with down to earth passions. She would wake up at 5 o’clock every morning to water her favourite flowers. Often I heard her sing while doing this. She even went hunting near her house before breakfast. She was a tireless collector. When Nonna came home, her apron was always full: she had collected wild herbs and sprouts for ravioli or salads, mushrooms for a risotto and some meadow flowers for the table and the memorial corner with grandpa’s picture. I inherited my love for simple things as well as the treasures of nature from Nonna Nina.
In favour of the dandelion
Even if the dandelion is often only smiled upon in this country, it is definitely part of the culinary springtime in Italy. The young green leaves are tender, they have a slightly bitter and nutty taste and they are ideal for salads. We Italians also love them with eggs or hot bacon. When the plants are a little stronger, we pick the flower buds. These are soaked in vinegar to create northern Italian “capers”. And once dandelions have turned the meadows yellow, we pick the flower heads to add some colour and flavour to rice dishes, soups and salads. Even the roots can be used: roasted and ground, they produce an excellent decaffeinated coffee.
Good to know
There are many ways to use dandelion in the kitchen –it is also the perfect herb to give us a boost once spring has come around again. Dandelion aids digestion and detoxifies the liver. Due to its high potassium level, it stimulates diuresis and cleanses the body. A true spring cleaning that even tastes delicious!
Dandelion salad with asparagus, pears and pistachios
- 4 asparagus green or if possible wild asparagus
- 1 handful dandelion leaves
- 1 handful lamb’s lettuce salad
- ½ handful daisy blossoms
- 1 small pear
- 1 tbsp raisins
- ½ handful pine nuts roasted
- ½ handful hazelnuts roasted
- 1 pinch baking soda
- 2 lemon juice
- olive oil
- ½ chilli pepper fresh
My personal addition:
- 1 avocado
- 6 berries physalis
Roast the pine nuts until golden brown in a pan without fat. Soak the raisins in a tablespoon of water.
Squeeze the lemons and pour the juice into a large bowl. Peel the avocado and the pear and use a slicer to cut each fruit into evenly thin slices. Place the slices in the lemon juice so that they do not turn brown.
Put water in a pot, add a pinch of baking soda and bring to the boil. Blanch the asparagus in it for about 5 minutes. Wild asparagus have shorter cooking times. Afterwards, cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces.
Wash the dandelions, lamb’s lettuce and daisies, chop if necessary and put into a salad bowl. Wash the physalis and cut into thin slices. Now add all of the prepared ingredients to the salad. Marinate with salt, olive oil and lemon juice. The finely chopped chilli pepper adds some spice to the spring salad.
You can get dandelions and daisies at city markets and from well-stocked greengrocers. If you collect them yourself, make sure that the meadows or harvesting areas have not been fertilised.