I’ve been thinking about this dandelion salad as much as I’ve thought about the lamb stew. In my last post, I prepared the Hunger Games lamb stew with dried plums because it was the most talked about dish in all three books of the Hunger Games Trilogy, a story based upon a dystopian society with all the usual oppression and suffering, pushing the reader at all times to look for that glimmer of hope in circumstance and in the heart of the people.
Katniss is only eleven years old and with a dead father and a depressed mother, she is in charge of finding food.
“For three days, we’d had nothing but boiled water with some old dried mint leaves I’d found in the back of a cupboard.
All forms of stealing are forbidden in District 12. Punishable by death. But it crossed my mind that there might be something in the trash bins, and those were fair game. Perhaps a bone at the butcher’s or rotted vegetables at the grocer’s, something no one but my family was desperate enough to eat. Unfortunately, the bins had just been emptied. When I passed the baker’s, the smell of fresh bread was so overwhelming I felt dizzy. The ovens were in the back, and a golden glow spilled out the open kitchen door.”
Early in book, we feel the pain of hunger in District 12, and amidst that suffering, we get to experience the triumph of a kind heart that ensures us that the goodness in humanity can still be found. A compassionate, if smitten, boy works in his parents bakery. In spite of facing his very unkind mother’s refuff, he burns two loaves of bread. As Katniss is thrown a burnt loaf she realizes not only her good fortune, but the compassion that went with it. We feel her good fortune along with her that night and the next day as she spots some weeds in the meadow.
“I grabbed a bucket and Prim’s hand and headed to the Meadow and yes, it was dotted with the golden-headed weeds. After we’d harvested those, we scrounged along inside the fence for probably a mile until we’d filled the bucket with the dandelion greens, stems, and flowers. That night, we gorged ourselves on dandelion salad and the rest of the bakery bread.”
Collins, Suzanne (2009). The Hunger Games (p. 50). Scholastic Books. Kindle Edition.
Katniss’s mother was a healer and had a book on herbs and plants and knew the ones that would be harmful. Dandelion was amongst the healing plants, and although in today’s world, some of us mistakenly think of dandelion greens as a mere weed, these are a super food and more than good enough to make a salad from. I am no stranger to dandelion greens and made this stunning dandelion pasta salad with feta cheese a few years ago.
I purchased organic dandelion, and in honor of Katniss, I added in blood orange and made a blood orange salad dressing. I added in strawberries because Katniss traded wild strawberries on the black market with the mayor, and it would have made sense for her to have these available to her.Dandelion can taste a little bitter, but keep in mind, it will be the combination of flavors from the salad dressing that will pull it together and bring a perfect balance. I’ll attest to just how good a dandelion salad can be, especially after coming off of an illness, because the body craves nutrition and dandelion is a super food. How much more welcome the dandelion greens were so to someone who hasn’t eaten for a few days. Tell me after you’ve been sick for a while, what’s the first food you crave? Mine is always greens.
Zest blood orange, lemons into a bowl.
Prepare a teaspoon each of raspberry honey (or regular honey), fig jam, dijon mustard, lemon juice, blood orange juice and a smattering of red chili pepper.
Whisk the mustard into red wine vinegar. Add in olive oil, canola or grape seed oil and whisk to form an emulsion. Add in blood orange juice. The dressing is tangy, spicy, sweet, and tart all at the same time, and perfect over a biter green such as dandelion. Add in slices of blood orange, strawberries and serve with charred crusty bread.
- Dandelion greens
- 1 teaspoon of citrus zest from a combination of blood orange and lemon
- 1 teaspoon of raspberry honey or regular honey
- 1 teaspoon of fig jam (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoons red chili pepper
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon blood orange juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or canola oil
- salt and pepper
- Zest the citrus into a small bowl
- Whisk together dijon mustard, honey, fig jam and red wine vinegar and citrus juices.
- Slowly whisk in olive oil and grapeseed oil.
- Season with salt the pepper and taste for heat. Dressing should have a spicy zing to it, which helps to balance the bitterness of the greens.
You may also want to try this dandelion pasta salad with feta cheese.