At the Farmers Market:
Some may think of dandelion greens as being too bitter and assertive to be delicious. However, in this dish, the sharpness of the greens is balanced by the pancetta’s salty meatiness and the rounded sweetness of the walnuts.
Give it a try.
* * * *
1 bunch of dandelion, washed well, bottom stems discarded, and roughly chopped
4 slices of pancetta
5 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup of walnuts, halves and pieces
½ -1 Tb of extra virgin olive oil
* Fill a pot with water. It should be large enough to hold the dandelion. Bring to a boil.
* Add the chopped dandelion and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
* Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and cook until just crispy. Remove it from the pan to a plate.
* Move the pan off the burner for a minute or two to cool it down so the garlic won’t burn. Reduce the heat to medium-low and place the pan back on the burner. Add the smashed garlic, pinch of salt and the red pepper if you are using it. Cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic is wonderfully fragrant and just beginning to turn golden. Flip the cloves over and cook for another minute or so. Remove the cloves to the plate with the pancetta.
* Raise the heat back to medium and add the walnuts. Stir just to warm them. They don’t need to be toasted.
* Add the garlic and dandelion to the nuts. Crumble in the pancetta. Stir to combine the flavors and heat through. Taste for seasoning but note some pancetta can pretty salty.
Serve hot or at room temperature, then make a wish.