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Where the Wild Things Are (Dandelions On the Table), Part 1

If you have been giving my bean-eating challenge a fair chance, you’ve probably realized that incorporating some new storage friendly foods into your diet isn’t as hard as you thought it would be (and hopefully you are actually enjoying these new dishes!).

A New Challenge

I have a new challenge- what can you FIND OUTSIDE to eat?

Wait, don’t leave!  It’s not that hard.  You don’t have to be SurvivorMan and no bug-eating is required (though Joe could give you a review of a few kinds).  Insects are completely optional.

Let’s start with something easy.  Dandelions.

You can’t even pretend you don’t know where to get those- your yard is full of them!  Did you know they are edible?

A Plant Of Many Uses

Historically, dandelions have been used in many ways.  Stories say that the inhabitants of the island of Minorca once subsisted almost entirely on them during a famine.

The leaves are used raw in salads, the root has been used in a parsnip-type way or roasted to make a coffee substitute, and the petals make a beautiful jelly.  (For a great how-to recipe for making the jelly, check here. )

The key to the palatability of many things is timing.  For example, you eat asparagus when it has just poked its head above the ground and is still tender, not in July when it has gone to (poisonous) seed.  In the same way, dandelion greens are best before the plant has flowered.  Late in the season, the mature leaves get bitter in the heat and can still be eaten, but would probably require a couple of changes of water in cooking to produce “greens” that may taste good.

Euell Gibbons, author of Stalking the Wild Asparagus, suggests making a Dandelion Crown Salad from the newly emerging plant top.  He says to cut the crowns finely, add a bit of salt, a pinch of sugar, and 1 small chopped onion.  Fry 2-3 pieces of bacon cut in small pieces, then them remove from pan.  Add 2 tbsp cider vinegar to the pan, boil, and pour over the chopped dandelion greens and stir.  Top with bacon and sliced hard-boiled egg and serve immediately.  I wish I’d found this recipe earlier in the season!

A word of caution:  Be sure that any wild edibles you collect are from “clean” areas-  free from pesticides, herbicides, roadside run-off, etc.

Share Your Experiences

If you’ve tried dandelions in some way, please leave a comment and share how you’ve made them and what you thought.

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13 Comments on “Where the Wild Things Are (Dandelions On the Table), Part 1”

  1. Elma Imbrenda Says:

    My family came to the U.S. from a small town near Salerno, South of Naples. We used dandelions in our meals all the time. In Italian they are called “Cicorria”. After cleaning and washing the Cicorria, we bring them to a boil and cook until they are 98% tender. Then drain and squeeze dry. Saute a sliced garlic glove or two, together with hot pepper flakes in olive oil until the pepper flakes take on color. Then add the Cicorria. Add Salt and saute until tender. Sometimes my Mother would add diced tomatoes and parsley – also on occasion, a boiled diced potato. Absolutely delicious. This is a slightly bitter vegetable, but it loses some of its bitterness during the boiling process.

    Reply

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