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Dandelion greens are simply the toothed leaves of the common plant which produce the ubiquitous yellow flower. The leaves sprout from a central hollow stem which may be green or red. Dandelion green's flavor is tangy and bitter. The younger leaves with short stems are tender and mild, while larger leaves become fibrous and overly bitter. Once the plants produce flowers, their strong flavor increases and the greens are past the point of optimal culinary value.
Dandelion greens may not be as versatile as lettuce or spinach, but they are not limited in their use and should be considered for both raw and cooked applications. Dandelion greens work well in salad mixes paired with pears, apples, and stone fruits. Other complementary pairings include citrus, sherry vinegar, tart dressings, and creamy dressings, olive oil, shallots, fennel, white beans, tomatoes, chiles, cheese, and garlic.
Leaves should be rinsed in cool water, dried thoroughly, and stored in an open plastic bag. Wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel, if you'd like. They'll keep for a few days in the fridge.
Simple Dandelion Greens Side Dish
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces dandelion greens
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese