I’m starting to see dandelions as the single-most misunderstood wild food. People spend much time eradicating their robust roots from their monoculture of lawn. They spend money on toxic pesticides and various pieces of equipment designed specifically aimed at waging war on the dandelion. As I have in the past, I will offer the ultimate solution: eat them. Only this time, my proposed solution comes with an exciting tweak.
Blanch them. It was quite in passing that I decided to toss a plant pot atop an emerging specimen to see what it’d do. A couple years ago I had a bunch of soil trucked in [largely a mistake] and noticed the blanched shoots pushing through the added soil were worth picking and eating – they helped get me into eating dandelions. Turns out the pot idea was a success. A resounding success. I tasted them today and got straight to getting containers upside down around my yard covering any other promising candidates. The blanched leaf-stems I’d experience before were nice, the blanched entire leaf is vastly more worthwhile.
Blanching bitter greens is not new – Belgian endive being perhaps the most famous. Blanching dandelions is new to me, and I’m sold. Big time. Note to self: in the fall, dig up a bunch of rogue dandelion plants, and transplant them together in a south-facing [so they’re early] spot that’s easy to cover. Genius. [below: same perspective as shot above, only with pot in place]
That is genius. Did you eat them raw or cooked? Are they cookable without losing all character?
I only tasted some raw. I’m going to be using most of them to bolster the first spring salads, but am interested to give them a go cooked as well, now that you mention it.
Interesting idea. I’ll have to give this a whirl and see what the family thinks. These guys are the first greens that emerge naturally (I cut a couple of huge ones out of the garden last night) so it would be nice to have fresh stuff so soon. By contrast, my early sown spinach has just germinated and it will be a month before we get anything off of it (cold frames next year!).
Brilliant. Love the idea. Hate mature bitter dandelions, but will definitely keep them in mind when lost on a city lot without lunch money.
Every spring my mother would roam the meadows around our house for young Dandelions, wash it five times ( no idea why), then make the salad with bacon and roasted potatoes.
Here, we eat Arugula….
From Nadia Devenz of Edmonton via email, with permission:
“I just read your recent post on Dandelions, being of Italian heritage this is something that I have grown up picking and eating, as a child my parents would make a picnic day of picking, we would spend our spring days in the river valley and what fun it was and the best was eating them in salad after, Italians eat them both raw in salad form or cooked, first boiled then pan fried with oil and garlic, I have even had them in Risotto very good, although my all time favorite is in a warm vinaigrette, we pan fry some good bacon or pancetta type bacon with onion and some olive oil (depending on how much fat is in the bacon is how much oil we use) once this is cooked we then add the vinegar you want about 2 to 1 ratio of fat to vinager or to your taste add some black pepper once the mixture returns to a boil add to your dandelions and toss, the dandelions will absorb the dressing and they will wilt a bit, they are so flavourful, in fact my Mom is planning on going out today or tomorrow depending on the weather to gather a bunch for our Sunday dinner, can’t wait to eat them.”