We went nettle picking recently on a local organic farm and walked through a gorgeous pasture full of blooming dandelions. We gathered up quite a few of the beautiful flowers and decided to work them into a meal. The petals are fairly sweet, while the green of the flower is slightly bitter. I figured integrating them into a salad full of cooked sweet vegetables would be perfect; and it really was.
Golden Beet, Fennel and Grilled Pear Salad with Dandelions
1 bunch golden beets with tops [Clean the tops well in cold water and chop into pieces.]
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
1 pear, cored and cut into wedges
a handful of organically-grown dandelion flowers
Peel and cut beets into wedges. Place in a pan and cover with broth. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until fork-tender. [Keep an eye on the level of liquid, you may have to replenish.] Remove the beets and transfer into a bowl that can accomodate the entire salad once made. Add the washed and chopped beet greens to the same pan and add more liquid if needed. Cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and add to the bowl with the beet root.
Wipe out the pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the thinly sliced fennel bulb and sauté until slightly softened. This should take 5-7 minutes. Add fennel to the salad bowl. Add the dandelion flower tops to the pan and sauté briefly. Add to the salad bowl.
Heat a grill pan on medium high heat and add the pear wedges. Cook until each side has grill marks. Add to the salad bowl. [You may want to cut the pears into smaller pieces, if so, let them cool atop the vegetables so that their juices fall into the bowl and are not wasted.]
Toss the cooked fruit and vegetables and season to taste with sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper. Either serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with fennel fronds.