food holidays My Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Dutch Culture

Dandelion Salad-A First Taste of Spring

March 28, 2017

Spring has come to Eastern Pennsylvania, melting the thirteen inches of snow we got two weeks ago. It is time for dandelion salad.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Dandelion here is a Spring delicacy. Although you can find in the wild, you can buy it at the grocery store. We eat the green part of the dandelion (although I have met people who deep fry the yellow top) and is delicious with hot bacon dressing. It’s fun to hunt for the first sighting of dandelion. Believe it or not, it’s highly prized.

Traditionally a Pennsylvania Dutch Easter dish, the dandelion salad was traditionally found around Maundy Thursday, also called “Green Thursday.” You can read more about this tradition here:

Churches in our area, especially in the heavily Pennsylvania Dutch areas, offer ham and dandelion salad dinners. They are getting rarer. I like to amp my gourmet by eschewing pork (which I still like) for fresh shad roe pan fried alongside the salad (yet another Pennsylvanian treat). In the Bethlehem area, I find both at Valley Farm Market.

It is a simple preparation:

Chop off the stalks below the leaves. Wash your greens very well (they tend to be sandy). I do this in my salad spinner. You want the leaves to be dry before adding the dressing. Once the leaves are dry, chop them into smaller pieces (they are hard to eat long although they are more photogenic this way).


Make the hot bacon dressing, 

Hot Bacon Dressing

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  • Prep Time: 15h


  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar (I start with 1/3 up and add up to 1/2 depending on taste)


  1. Place bacon in a frying pan Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. You can also bake the bacon in a deep dish in the oven at 400 until bacon is crispy (about 15 minutes or so. Drain, crumble and set aside. Reserve grease. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt, and slowly pour in water and vinegar, whisking constantly. In a medium skillet, add the crumbled bacon and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. I usually add a teaspoon or two of the reserved bacon drippings. You want the mixture to be thick enough to coat and stick to leaves but not the consistency of pudding. When dressing is warm, place on greens.

bacon bits

Pour the bacon dressing immediately over the greens and stir well. This is a preparation that shouldn’t sit too long so eat it immediately. I like my dandelion salad topped with diced hard boiled egg and freshly cracked pepper



Enjoy your taste of Pennsylvania in the Spring!

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I don’t think I have ever seen dandelion greens in the grocer. It is too early for the farmer markets here. My husband’s family makes a dandelion green salad with sour cream sauce. If he wants me to make it he’ll pick them and bring them in. Otherwise no. His mother used to make dandelion jelly, but that uses the flower.

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