Dandelions for Peter

Dr. Peter A. GailThis post is dedicated to Dr. Peter Gail. Peter was passionate about edible wild plants and foraging. He taught me so much. I can’t ever look at dandelions the same way.

We said goodbye to him today. He will be missed by all who knew him. He was an amazing man. Brilliant mind, gentle heart. A devoted family man and a crusader for a cause. That cause was dandelions and other edible plants that most people see as weeds. He wanted people to stop poisoning their weeds and start harvesting them instead.  He has inspired me in so many ways. I will miss him terribly.

So today, Peter, this post on dandelions is for you my sweet friend.

It’s funny when you think about it. People spend tons of money to eradicate dandelions from their lawns but will go to an upscale restaurant and pay good money for a salad with mixed greens including dandelions. Dandelions were not considered a weed at one time. In fact, immigrants brought the seeds to America as a vegetable. While the greens can be bitter they can also be tamed when paired with certain ingredients. Combining dandelions with tomatoes, vinegar, cheese or other dairy products and bread or cereal products will make them less bitter when eaten. They are also packed with nutrients and if you don’t spray your yard with herbicides you can likely find them under your own feet. Free, tasty and nutritious. Sounds like a win all around. The plant is pretty much edible from top to bottom. The leaves for salads, soups and other dishes. The flowers are used for wine, jelly and the “burger” recipe at the bottom of this page. The roots are roasted and used as a substitute for coffee. If you haven’t eaten dandelions before my only question is, what are you waiting for?

A classic dish using dandelions is dandelion gravy. Some versions use bacon, others not. This one uses bacon, sour cream and is served with boiled potatoes.

Dandelion Gravy

4 strips bacon
3 T. flour
1 c. water
1 lb. dandelion greens, washed and chopped
½ c. sour cream
1 T. sugar
1 T. vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot boiled or baked potatoes
Fresh chopped parsley, optional

Chop bacon and cook in skillet until crisp. Leave bacon in the pan. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and stir in the flour until smooth. Add water and dandelion greens and cook over medium heat until greens are tender- about 5- 10 minutes. Add more water if mixture is too thick. Turn off heat. Combine sour cream with sugar and vinegar and stir into dandelion mixture. Adjust seasonings. Spoon gravy over potatoes.
Serves 4.

Note: If you want leave out the bacon instead add 3 tablespoons of oil to skillet along with the flour.

 

My friend, Mari Keating, sent met his recipe for a frittata.

Mari’s Dandelion Frittata

Mari Wrote: I sauteed greens in olive oil and garlic, poured scrambled eggs over, sprinkled with feta cheese, let it set over low heat, then popped it under the broiler to “poof” – an amazing frittata. Amounts are variable to taste, as is cheese used (or not). The greens are a wonderful addition to salads, raw or wilted with a hot vinaigrette and today I’m making dandelion pesto.  Google abounds with recipes. My variation is that I use walnuts instead of pinenuts, because I’m cheap.

She said it was wonderful.

The next 2 recipes come from Dr. Peter Gail my mentor and dearly loved friend.

Dandelion Pita Pizza

Pita bread, toasted English muffin, or toasted bread
Spaghetti or pizza sauce
Fresh dandelion greens of any age, chopped fine
Grated cheese (any kind)
Cover bread with sauce, add chopped greens, top with cheese, and toast in oven until cheese
melts. For a more sophisticated treat, chopped dandelion greens may be sauted in olive oil with
onions, mushrooms and several cloves of crushed garlic, and then spread on the pizza and topped
with cheese.

Dandy Burgers

1 cup dandelion flowers, green removed
½ cup flour, any kind
1/4 cup onions, chopped fine

½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp pepper
enough milk to make thick batter.
Peel dandelion flowers and put in 4 quart mixing bowl. Add onions and mix together. Blend
flour and seasonings together, add to the flowers and onions, and blend thoroughly. Add milk
slowly, blending it in until you have a thick batter.
Heat Olive Oil in frying pan to cover bottom. Make batter into golf-ball-sized balls. Place in
oil, and squash down flat to make a 2″ diameter patty. Fry till brown on both sides. Remove and
serve on rolls as you would hamburger patties.