dandelions

Dining on Dandelions

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 always considered a weed. 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.

Dandelions are 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. I recently baked dandelion flowers into muffins.  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

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.

The next 2 recipes come from Dr. Peter Gail, my mentor and dearly loved  friend. I will always remember Peter when I cook with dandelions.

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 sauteed 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. Form 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 small rolls as you would hamburger sliders.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of Dr. Peter Gail

Eat Those Dandelions

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 always considered a weed. 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.

Dandelions are 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. I recently baked dandelion flowers into muffins.  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

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.

The next 2 recipes come from Dr. Peter Gail, my mentor and dearly loved  friend. I will always remember Peter when I cook with dandelions.

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 sauteed 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. Form 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 small rolls as you would hamburger sliders.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of Dr. Peter Gail

10 Plants You Might Not Know are Edible

I have posted this information before. I think it is extra important now, when so many of us are staying home. You might have a fresh salad growing all around you, and not even know it.

A lot of people don’t realize how many common plants they can eat. I thought it might be fun to share a few of them with you. Some of these are plants we grow as landscape/ornamental plants. Others are more often thought of as “weeds”. All have one thing in common. They are edible.

Some you may already know. I hope I might show you a few edibles you didn’t know about before.

I tried to stick to plants that were easy to identify. If you are not sure what it is – don’t eat it. Don’t eat plants where pesticides have been sprayed, either.

With any luck, you have at least a few of these in your yard.

violet

Violets: Violet flowers are edible and used to decorate pastries and to make jelly. Did you know you can also eat the leaves? They are mild flavored- especially when young- and are a great addition to salads. Violet leaves are also high in vitamin C.

purslane

Purslane: The thick, fleshy leaves of purslane are easy to identify. Many vegetable gardeners make every effort to keep them out of their yards. Truth is, purslane is grown as a vegetable in many parts of the world. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads, can be cooked in a stir fry or just steamed as a fresh veggie. They can also be pickled. I make a salsa out of purslane leaves. They are crunchy with a slightly citrus flavor.

lambsquarters

Lambsquarters: Lambsquarters are one of my favorites. They sprout all over my yard and in pots as soon as the weather warms up in the Spring. The leaves can be eaten raw when young or cooked as they mature. They taste just like spinach and are even better for you. Plants can get quite large and provide an easy harvest of nutritious greens.

dandelion

Dandelions: We spend so much money trying to kill them. Sad because they are really a tasty green. Dandelions were brought to America by European immigrants as a vegetable. Their bitter greens can be an acquired taste. By combining the greens with certain foods you make them taste less bitter. Starchy foods like breads or potatoes, dairy products, tomatoes and vinegars all seem to tame the bitterness.  Dandelion greens can be eaten cooked or raw. Flowers are used to make jelly and wine and can be added to baked goods.

hosta11

Hosta: If you can get to them before the deer do, you will be pleasantly surprised. Hosta leaves are quite mild flavored, similar to Bibb lettuce. I add them to salads and even serve them with dips. The older leaves get tough so pick young leaves.

sweetpotato11

Sweet Potato Leaves: A friend from Hawaii first told me about eating  sweet potato leaves. The leaves are pretty mild flavored. I normally eat them cooked although I have friends that eat them raw as well. You can eat the leaves of all sweet potatoes, including ornamental types.

lilac11

Lilac: Lilac flowers are fragrant and edible. I use them every year to make lilac infused vinegar. They have a nice spicy taste that works well in the vinegar. Blossoms can be added to salads, too. This year I also made lilac jelly.

pigweed11

Redroot/Pigweed: This member of the amaranth family is distinguished by a reddish color to its roots. It has a spinach like flavor and can be cooked and used like spinach is any recipe. The plants can get several feet tall and often show up in places where the soil has been tilled.

tulips

Tulips: Tulips are more than pretty, they are also quite tasty. The petals taste like a mild flavored lettuce and can add a beautiful touch to salads. The bulbs are also edible but we rarely eat them because to do so would destroy the plant. The petals, however, can be harvested and eaten year after year without harming the plant.

roses11

Roses:  Rose petals have been used to make fragrances for a very long time. The petals are also edible and can be added to salads and used to make jelly, syrup and of course, rose water. The hips are also quite edible. Rose hips are the round balls that are left after the bloom is spent. They are full of vitamin C and can be cooked and used to make tea and jelly.

This is far from a complete list. Just a few things from my yard that I thought you might have, too.

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.

Dandelion Gravy

Dandelion Gravy

Dandelion Gravy

I think most people are surprised to find that dandelions were brought to America as a vegetable and were not considered a weed. Today people spend a lot of money and use horrible chemicals to try to kill this very nutritious food source. I’ll give you that dandelions can be bitter. Don’t use the greens when the plant is flowering or just after. Early Spring growth is milder in flavor. After flowering if you cut dandelions back, the new growth will be milder, too. Still, when paired with acidic foods like tomatoes or vinegars, with breads or other starchy foods or with dairy products the bitterness of the dandelion is greatly reduced.

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. I made this in class last night and people were pleasantly surprised to find they liked dandelions.

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.

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