Dandy Time

It’s high time for dandelions in Seattle right now and presumably elsewhere. Northern regions of the interior still locked in snow will have to wait another month. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m not a big fan of the prissy American lawn, that one-note symphony of righteousness that seems to suggest moral rectitude on the part of the homeowner willing to commit himself to a never-ending battle with weeds. This position becomes even more indefensible when one stops to consider the nutritional and culinary value of the enemy.

So, for the neighbors’ benefit, I’ve been doing my part to rid the lawn of weeds. By eating them.

In a quest for superfoods to kick and roll out of winter, FOTL has been enjoying dandy salads for the past month, and sharing the bounty with other…shall we say more skeptical eaters. But in the last week we’ve had a massive dandelion blossoming across the city, meaning it’s now time to change tactics. The leaves of dandelions are delicious while still young and tender. Raw, they have a bite not unlike socially acceptable salad greens such as escarole or chicory. They can also be steamed as a side vegetable, or cooked with a chunk of saltpork like collards.

Once the buds form, though, the leaves start to become bitter. This is when I turn to my trusty copy of The Dandelion Celebration by Dr. Peter Gail, director of the Goosefoot Acres Center for Wild Vegetable Research and Education. Dr. Gail includes recipes for the whole kit-and-caboodle: In addition to 40 pages devoted to just the leafy greens we also get 30-plus that make use of closed buds, opened buds, full flowers, and those amazing (dastardly to lawncare professionals) taproots.

A few examples of recipes using the buds and flowers: Dandelion Flower Muffins, Dandelion Fritters, numerous variations on Dandelion Wine, and the Dandy Omelet. Using roots: Dandelion Coffee and even Dandelion Root Ice Cream (a recipe originally submitted by our own local Herbfarm Restaurant).

In the past I’ve stuck with the tried and true raw greens. This year we’re going deep into the catalog. Expect future reports on the buds (apparently they pop open when fried) and maybe even the roots, although FOTL isn’t quite prepared to give up his dark roast morning java, even if it’s decaf.

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