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Colonial Cooking: Wilted Salad

By Heather Lodge

The hearth was the heart of a colonial home. It provided people with warmth, light and most importantly, food. Almost everything a colonial family ate would have been prepared on the hearth. In this mini-series, I am going to show you how I make some of my hearth cooking staples.

Please note that not all fireplaces, even in colonial buildings, are equipped to be cooking hearths. I am a professional with years of training who knows how to cook using a hearth. Please do not try this in a fireplace at home.

Today’s recipe is one that can be used on a campfire or stove-top. If you would like to give it a try, please make sure that campfires are safely constructed, ovens are used with care, and a responsible adult is present at all times.

Today’s Recipe: Wilted Salad

Do you recognize this?

That’s right! It’s a dandelion! Perhaps the most misunderstood plant in modern America.

Dandelions originate from Eurasia, where they were used as food and medicine in various cultures for thousands of years. Our colonial ancestors intentionally brought dandelions to America because they could not imagine life without them. A dandelion to them was an important herb, not a weed.

Dandelions are always part of my wilted salad. I love their flavor and their historical importance. The colonists would have eaten them on their own, in fresh or in wilted salads. However, if you do not regularly eat dandelions, they can be hard to love. They are very bitter and, for best results. should be paired with more familiar greens such as kale or Swiss chard. For this recipe, only use the leaves. I’ll post another recipe for the dandelion flowers soon.

  • First, cut an onion and caramelize it.
  • While that is cooking, shred your greens into one or two-inch chunks.
  • If you’re using kale, crumple it in your hand before slicing it. This will help break down the cell walls and make it less bitter.
  • When the onion is brown and translucent, add the greens.
  • Add salt, a pinch of mustard powder, a pinch of cayenne, and the juice of half a lemon.
  • Cook the greens until they are wilted and slightly crispy.
  • Plate and serve.


By Heather Lodge

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