I can get hardy dark green dandelion greens at my farmers’ market in sweater season—usually spring and fall.
And I love to use them in salads next to rich ingredients that contrast with their wild bitterness, which is happily still not bred out of these assertively flavored greens.
Here, soft sweet confited garlic, crisp pancetta, and crumbled creamy blue cheese tame the dandelion, and the poached eggs make this satisfying enough if you want to serve it for lunch or a light dinner.
If you can’t get dandelion greens, mature arugula or spinach or escarole make good substitutes. Just avoid delicate lettuces or baby greens, which will wilt too quickly when they make contact with the hot oil.
Garlic-pancetta mixture: You can make this up to 3 weeks in advance. Let it cool to room temperature, then place it in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Bring it to room temperature before serving.
Dressing: You can make this up to 7 days in advance and refrigerate it in an airtight container.
Bring the dressing to room temperature and whisk it together before drizzling over the salad.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
1 head garlic, broken into cloves and peeled, divided
8 ounces pancetta, cut into ¾-inch pieces
6 ounces dandelion or other bitter greens, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
½ large head radicchio or 2 heads red endive, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
Fine sea salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese (use a sweeter blue cheese, such as Bleu d’Auvergne, or Gorgonzola dolce)
4 poached eggs
How to make
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Reserving 1 garlic clove for the dressing, add the remaining cloves to the skillet.
Cook until they are pale golden all over, 7 to 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and stir in the pancetta.
Cook until the pork is crisp and the garlic is deep golden and soft, 15 to 20 minutes. If the mixture starts to dry out, drizzle it with a little more oil.
If the garlic starts to turn dark brown in spots, reduce the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate (reserve the oil in the skillet).
Place the dandelion greens in a large heat-proof bowl. Scatter the radicchio on top. Pour the hot oil from the skillet over the greens and toss well.
Grate or press the reserved garlic clove into a small bowl, and add the vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Let the mixture sit for 1 minute. Then whisk in the mustard and finally the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
Drizzle the dressing over the greens and radicchio and toss to coat, adding more oil, vinegar, and/or salt to taste.
Fold in the pancetta lardons, garlic, and blue cheese. Transfer the salad to individual plates and top each serving with a poached egg if you like.