When I was 5, my Mom and I returned home from somewhere and she said ‘Look at those dandelions in the front yard’. I craned and craned my neck, but couldn’t spot any big tawny cats. That’s when I learned about dandelions, the flowers.
On Thursday mornings, I veer through the Exeter Farmer’s Market on my way to work. Last week my colleagues laughed at my purchase of wild foraged dandelion greens and offered to let me weed their gardens. I got them to use in a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, Potager by Georgeanne Brennan. I’ve had this book since it was published and the last time I made onion pancakes with dandelion greens and bacon was when I was living in California, the summer before I moved to Scotland in 1998.
I couldn’t remember the recipe and bought a selection of the smallest, tenderest ones I could find. When I got home to my cook book, I found that I need a whole bunch, or I could substitute spinach, so I got a bag of spinach from the greengrocer.
Friday is the day that I volunteer at the local sports centre. I love my walk up and back with a hedgerow and fields on one side and hand built stone walls with all sorts of plants and flowers growing from the crannies on the other. Each week there is something new and last week, it was rain washed foxgloves and honeysuckles.
And on a ledge high enough to be out of the reach of dog or fox urine, I found some lovely dandelions!
I filled the pocket of my gym shorts with leaves and brought them home to add to my recipe.
My market bought greens didn’t fare too well in the fridge overnight so I put them in some water, which perked them up somewhat.
Steve got home that afternoon from a long and busy week working away and we reconnected and relaxed by cooking dinner together. This recipe is easily halved, by the way.
Onion Pancakes with Dandelion Greens and Bacon
- 1 cup/230g plain flour
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¼ cup/300ml milk
- 3 tbsp/45g butter, melted and cooled
- ½ cup/75g chopped green (spring) onions
- Vegetable oil for cooking
- 1 bunch dandelion greens or spinach, stems removed
- 16 slices streaky bacon
- 6 tbsp/90g butter
- ¼ cup/38g finely chopped fresh parsley
- Juice of ½ a lemon
To make the batter, sift the flour into a bowl. Return it to the sifter, add the baking powder and salt to the sifter, and resift the flour into the bowl. Beat the eggs and milk together in a large bowl until well mixed. Stir in the butter, and then add the flour mixture. Beat the batter until it is smooth and free of lumps.
Heat a frying pan and grease it lightly with oil. For each pancake ladle about ¼ cup of the batter into the pan and cook the pancakes for about 2 – 3 minutes on each side. You should have about 12 thin pancakes in all.
Arrange the greens on a steamer rack placed over gently boiling water. Cover and steam until they are tender, for about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove the greens from the steamer and cut lengthwise into thin julienne strips.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon until it is crisp. Drain on paper towels.
In a small pan, melt the butter. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice.
For each serving, place a pancake on a dinner plate. Place a layer of the greens and 2 strips of bacon on the pancake. Top with a second pancake and repeat the layering of the greens and bacon. Finally, place a third pancake on top. When all 4 of the pancake stacks are made, pour some of the warm parsley butter over each stack. Serve immediately!
We made grilled asparagus to have on the side.