Dandelions: Weeds or Edibles?

dandelion greens

Early in the spring when there is still a slight chill in the air I walk out behind the barn here in MD, my happy place of which I call home with a small spade, knife and a bucket, the dandelions are ready to pull.

Many people want to eradicate the dandelion flower from their yards and driveways, but did you know the dandelion flower is the first spring food for the honeybees to begin gathering nectar? The taproot breaks up compacted soil, making room for the earthworms to do their work. The flowers themselves can make a delightful tea, popping off the flower heads will stop them from going to seed all over your yard.

A simple meal of greens with a warm dressing, or sautéed with a bit of garlic was a welcome change to the menu for my grandmother when she was little. After weeks of nothing but canned meat, potatoes and turnips, spring was finally here when she could go out and forage for fresh dandelion greens.

There is something calm and comforting about sitting outside in a lush green field, coming back to life after a long winter and foraging for food and then creating a simple yet satisfying meal from something so simple and right outside my backdoor!

The flavor of this early delicacy changes with the seasons, starting off subtle in the spring and becoming a bit more bitter as the leaves grow tougher, a bit of peppery taste, much like an arugula. Every inch of the dandelion is good-eating: the root can be steamed, sautéed or broiled. Pan fried in some ghee, the tender buds are much like the flavor of a cremini mushroom. You can even dip the flowers into batter and make a fritter. So many options!

Dandelion Pesto:
1 garlic clove
½ c of nut of choice (almonds, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts)
¼ c. parmesan cheese
4 c of chopped dandelion greens
1/3 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor process garlic, nuts, cheese and greens , slowly add olive oil until you reach the consistency of choice, add salt and pepper to taste.Top your favorite pasta, enjoy!

Dandelion Sweet Tea:
4 c dandelion flowers
1 c boiling water

Let steep for one hour, remove flowers and add ¼ c sugar, stir and pour over ice, enjoy!

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