Wild dandelion salad (salatet hindbeh)

 

I was driving in the Chouf mountains and my destination was a village in the valley 20 minutes away. I saw three women bent down on the edge of the road feverishly  plucking away what looked like weeds. It took me a couple of  minutes to think,  then I pulled over and turned around. 

“Excuse-me ladies, but do you mind telling me what it is you’re plucking?”. They turned up and said: ” It is called ers el-jabal, we are from Beirut and you can only find it here in the mountains and it is really good to eat!”. Then they handed me a bag full and got back in the car with husbands and kids in tow.

When I arrived at the village of Fawara, and asked my hosts, veteran local farmers, they confirmed that these were indeed wild dandelions. 

Tougher and more peppery in taste than their domesticated cousins these are beloved in Lebanon and are served very simply with lots of crispy fried onions and a touch of garlic, lemon and olive oil. 

  • 1 bunch of dandelions, chopped coarsely
  • 2 large onions, sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 large lemon, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed with a touch of salt
METHOD:
  1. Two methods here: One is to boil the dandelion first until limp then drain them thoroughly and set them aside while frying the onions. OR, you fry the onions in the olive oil till golden then add the dandelions and a cup of water and cook them until the water evaporates. Add the garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve. 

 

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17 Comments

  1. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Je mangeais de la salade de pissenlit (dandelion) souvent quand j’étais petite en France. L’arrière grand-mère de ma cousine et moi les trouvions dans les champs. Ensuite elle faisait une vinaigrette avec 2 oeuf durs et bien sur ont les mangeait crus. Maintenant quand je trouve des pissenlits de culture à Whole Food je les achète et je fais une grosse salade avec toujours des oeufs durs (et je les mange toujours crus) – et je ne mange rien d’autre!

  2. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s a great thing you pulled over! I’ve heard these are terrific.

  3. Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Looks amazing! And how nice that they just gave you a bag (:

  4. Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    My Swiss grandfather used to pick dandelions during his walks around the countryside….

    I love dandelion salad, but I’ve never cooked those greens. I’m sure I’d love this dish.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Posted January 10, 2013 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Mmm these look delish! I could eat the whole bag. So nice of them to hook you up with some.

  6. Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Looks delicious Joumana, have a good day…

  7. Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    looks so delicious! I must try the dandelion greens, so inviting :)

  8. Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    This is an interesting preparation for dandelion greens. I have only used them in salads. I will have to expand my horizons.

  9. Posted January 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I have yet to taste true wild dandelion. Here it is a hated weed in the quest for a perfect lawn. How sad!

  10. Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    My father-in-law, George would be drooling to read this…he LOVES dandelion greens. They look a bit like arugula, is the taste similar?

  11. Posted January 11, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Originale cette salade de ” dents de lion ” mais ça doit être dur à avaler…

  12. Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Oh, Joumana. You are a source of endless creativity and inspiration.
    I find myself coming to this space not always to look up recipes but just get inspired by all your energy and your wonderful posts.
    Have a happy 2013!

  13. Posted January 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joumana! I noticed that the dandelion in your photograph has red veining (if that’s the right word). I’m wondering if it’s because it’s different type of dandelion from that found here in the U.S. or is that how wild dandelions look worldwide? There are likely different species, just as with other plants. I would love to find and prepare the dandelion that’s in your recipe. I hope there’s a chance of me finding it here in Maryland.

    Alaiyo

  14. Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Looks wonderful Joumana!

    In the suburbs of New York, the elderly Italian women would pick the greens anywhere they proliferated. You could always see them, rump up, shrouded in black along the roads and highways picking the dandelion flowers and greens. the greens were used in salads, either as a feature or an accompanying flavor like arugula, and the flowers were used to make wine and vinegar.

    This brought me back to some of the Mediterranean food of my childhood – thanks!

  15. Joumana
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    @Alaiyo: I am sure there are hundreds of varieties! Even in a tiny country like Lebanon one finds so many varieties of wildflowers it is mindboggling! Anyway, you can always buy the ones at the organic market. The grown ones are not as tough or peppery!

  16. Lorraine French
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    What other wild greens and herbs do they pick to use? Thanks

  17. Joumana
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    @Lorraine French: I will be going over them as they get foraged; there is a thistle called 3akkoub which is picked high up in the mountains at an altitude over 1100m; there is wild zaatar, picked now (I will post on it tomorrow); there is a type of watercress picked near rivers, also there is wild sage (I saw some yesterday) and wild fennel (picked a bunch last week) near water streams. etc

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