The Sporting Life

with Botsie 

Sunday was the first day of spring, captains, and last week I found my first dandelion green on a south-facing slope, so it is time for my yearly column about a dandelion salad. It is not exactly the dandelion season here yet; the best time to dig for dandelions is when the robin starts to dig for worms. But since spring is coming to most of the readers sooner than it comes to Crested Butte, I will do this column now so you readers can get dandelions when they are at their young best.

What you want to get is the real young dandelion greens — almost before they are really green. The best eating dandelions are the little reddish-green or whitefish shoots that you see grow where the snow has just melted from off the ground.

Later on, when the snows are all gone and the dandelions seem to mostly be old dandelions, go to the fields and pastures, and look on the mounds by the gopher holes; there you will usually find little shoots.

Take a knife for getting the greens, make sure you go beneath the soil to get the whole green, as the part just above the roots is the tender part.

When you have got a box or a pan full of dandelion greens, take them home and wash them good to get all the grit off them. Then let them sit overnight if possible in a pan of cold water, to crisp them up. You can treat them just about like lettuce, keep them in your refrigerator crisper if you want.

You eat them just like you would eat an endive lettuce too. I like to salt them real good, and mix them with oil and vinegar, when I want a good fast salad.

If I have a little more time, I make up this special bacon-grease salad dressing. To make it, you cut up a piece of slab bacon into tiny chunks; then you put them in a pan, along with some Mazola-type oil, and let them simmer until the chunks are crisp. Then you take the pan off the stove to cool it off. As soon as it is cool enough so the vinegar does not splatter if it hits the grease, add wine vinegar to suit your taste. Then put the pan back on the stove to keep it warm. When you are ready to serve the salad, pour the bacon grease dressing over the dandelion greens. This is a hard-to-beat salad, captains; I guarantee you will like it with fish and potatoes, or maybe a steak.

Keep the dandelion recipes in mind; this kind of a salad is especially handy if you are going on a camping trip. There is no need to pack along lettuce with the good Lord providing dandelions at every gopher hole or snow bank. But it is also nice even if you are just at home—when you go out to weed the lawn the next time, save the dandelions, and you will have two jobs done at once.

(Our good friend Rudolph Spritzer passed on a few years back but we still communicate almost on a daily basis. This is one of his best columns written in 1974)

Filed Under: Hard News

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