The greens of the dandelion plant are sometimes used raw in salads, sautéed or steamed. They taste like chicory and endive, with an intense heartiness overlying a bitter tinge.
Dandelion leaves are best harvested in early spring, before the flowers appear. The youngest plants are best, being the least bitter. Dandelion can also be harvested again in late fall, as a frost destroys their protective bitterness. The dandelion is unusual, being one of the few non-toxic plants with milky white sap. Dandelions make a great free meal. Not only are they high in nutrition and very good for you, they also taste great!
Where Do I Take Them From?
Find some flowers in your yard or field that are not right by the road and collecting pollution from traffic. Larger varieties of dandelions and older, tougher leaves may be cooked like any greens. They are probably closest in character to mustard greens, though bitter. Young plants are a little less bitter; the very young ones make an excellent though slightly bitter salad.
With a knife, cut the whole plant at the top of the root so that it comes out of the ground intact. You should snap off the yellow flowers that have already opened up but be sure to leave any unopened buds - these are the tastiest part!
Remove The Bitterness
Once you have given your pickings a good washing to get off all the dirt, stick them in a pot with enough water to just cover and boil until they are nice and soft. When the water turns yellow, replace it with fresh water and re-boil. This will remove the bitterness. When they are done they will have the consistency of cooked spinach. If you have very young plants you may decide to skip this step.
- Strain and dress with butter, a squeeze of lemon, or vinegar. Optionally, add little pieces of fried bacon.
- Dandelion salad is often accompanied with hard boiled eggs.
- Lightly sauté (or roast) a clove of garlic, half an onion and a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes in a tablespoon and a half of olive oil. Add a quart of damp greens to the sautéed vegetables, cover and steam over low heat for about thirty minutes. Season to taste and serve.
- Making Dandelions Palatable by John Kallas of Wild Food Adventures
- Dandelion Syrup - step-by-step illustrated recipe in English
- Edible parts of dandelions: Identification and edible parts of dandelions.