The Home Cook: Kemp’s Dandy Egg on Toast

It’s spring, and old-timey dandelion greens make an appearance at farmers markets—and in your own backyard. Time to pounce.
dandy egg on toast

It’s ironic that the garlicky, messy tumble of dandelion greens that my husband and I piled on top of thick slices of toast, crowned with fried eggs, and just feasted on are the same plants I saw in a TV ad last night, in need of annihilation by a weed killer. The juxtaposition is particularly jarring these days, when lawns and yards are increasingly being transformed into productive sources of food for the family table. This is the time to celebrate the dandelion, not destroy it.

Most likely, you’ve probably heard about the diuretic power of the leaves—a quality significant enough to the French that they dubbed it pissenlit. The flowers can be brewed into a wine associated, most famously, with novelist Ray Bradbury, and the roots, when dried and roasted, make a terrific caffeine-free herbal tea that has a deep, dark, almost coffee-like oomph, as well as a mild laxative effect.

The best time to eat dandelion greens is in the spring, when they’re young and tender. (When the plant flowers, the leaves develop a more pronounced bitterness.) They’re good raw, tossed with other greens in a salad, but cooking, I’ve found, tempers their bite; I’m partial to them quickly braised, with plenty of garlic and olive oil. Lacking access to an (untreated) yard, I purchase dandelion greens at my local farmers market. My husband is so crazy about them that, come the vernal equinox, he starts reminding me every Saturday to “buy a lot if you see them.” His eagerness has led me to also buy the greens labeled “dandelion” at the supermarket. They don’t look quite like the weeds I grew up with—they’re a cultivated variety of Catalogna chicory—but they nevertheless behave the same way in the kitchen.

Of course, you can serve the greens on their own, as a side dish, but my husband and I love them as a cushion between a fried egg and toast. The dandelion cuts the richness of the egg, and the toast absorbs all the delicious juices. Dandelion loves garlic, so I play up that affinity by rubbing the toast with a raw clove bruschetta-style; that way, you get a pungent hit of fresh garlic along with the milder, cooked-garlic flavor in the greens.

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