With Thanks to Meltem Birkegren
Dandelion greens are eaten throughout the Mediterranean. In Turkey, they’re called “karahindiba” or “radika.” Meltem Birkegren, originally from Istanbul, explained the Turkish way of cooking dandelion greens: “We usually wilt the greens then mix with olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed garlic … You can also wilt the dandelions [and] to the olive oil/lemon juice/garlic … add some yogurt & walnuts.” Inspired by Meltem, and with a bag of cleaned dandelion greens in the refrigerator, I made Turkish Yogurt and Dandelion Green Salad in 15 minutes. Similar in many ways to Tzatziki, Turkish Yogurt and Dandelion Green Salad makes a creamy accompaniment to grilled meat or chicken. It’s also a tasty lunch (or snack) served with tomatoes and olives or as part of an appetizer spread, with raw vegetables, or with chips, crackers, or bread. It can be eaten right away, but is better after 24 hours in the refrigerator. Spinach may be used instead of dandelion greens. I successfully made this with nonfat yogurt; whole-milk yogurt would also be good.
- 6 packed cups raw dandelion greens or spinach
- 2 cups plain Greek (strained) yogurt
- 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Walnut halves
In large pot of boiling, salted water, blanch dandelion greens for 1 minute. Remove greens from boiling water and put in large bowl of ice water to cool quickly, thus preserving their color. Squeeze water out of greens, and then roughly chop them. Mix chopped greens with yogurt, crushed walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add garlic, lemon juice, salt, or freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Spread on plate, top with walnuts, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with bowls of salted fresh tomatoes and dry-cured black olives. Afiyet olsun! (Enjoy your meal!)
NOTE: 6 packed cups of dandelion greens equals 8 ounces raw and 5 ounces cooked with the water squeezed out. When greens are blanched and squeezed tight into a ball, they measure 1/2 cup. After chopping greens and separating them into pieces, they measure 1 cup.