This is dedicated to three people, whom I know spend a lot of time in open fields and nature, and encounter a lot of dandelions! To JH and SBK in the UK, and HL in The Netherlands, this one is for you!
While looking for new and interesting ways to expand my culinary horizons, I stumbled on a ton of dandelion recipes. Ever since I was a child and read the nature magazines my parents subscribed me to, I knew that dandelions were edible. It is one of things that you learn early on and store the information very far back and deep in the recesses of your memory. If you end up attending survival training, one of the first lessons you learn is foraging for food in open fields, mountains, forests or jungles, and dandelions are top of the list. Now that spring has arrived and the fields are flooded with these yellow fairies, my attention was inexplicably drawn to them and I decided to reacquaint myself with some childhood memories.
The leaves of the dandelion plant make a great salad. They are a tad on the bitter side, a bit like endives or arugula, but very pleasant, especially if you use a raspberry or mango vinegar. You can also make a pesto out of them if you prefer, and I recommend pairing it with walnut instead of pine nuts. My personal preference, however, is to use them in a quiche instead of spinach and you can throw in some flowers for good measure.
Dandelion roots can be roasted and ground into a coffee-like powder, or you boil them (whole) into a tea, which is quite popular as a detox since it is rich in antioxidants, is good for the liver, and reduces cholesterol. The taste? Well, it is considered a coffee substitute for those who cannot / should not drink coffee, but I would not drink it expecting to taste Arabica.
The flowers, and this is my personal favourite, are best fried with a batter of flour and egg. For the less lazy, you dip each flower head individually into the tempura-like batter and fry them. I took the more adventurous road and made them into patties, using a slightly thicker batter that resembled pancake mix. My daughter foraged for them in the nearby fields, bringing home a crop of about 5 cups of dandelion heads. which made a substantial meal for both of us! In case you want to try this, I have a few tips for you:
1. Don’t use the stems.
2. Cook the flowers as soon as you pick them, they whither quickly. The leaves can stand a little longer if you keep them cool and fresh in a Tupperware or bag.
3. Never pick dandelions on the side of the road.
4. Don’t compete with the cows or the goats for the dandelions, you will always lose.