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
- 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.