You might have heard of dandelion wine, but there’s more you can do with this little prolific little flower.
After my last little ode to great gorse, I thought I’d carry on basking in the springtime golden glow by writing about that other edible flower that lightens and brightens our landscape this time of year – the dandelion. The dandelion is so prolific even the most committed of city dwellers should be able to lay their hands on some. These are my favourite uses for the plant.
Young wild dandelion leaves:
The young leaves are delicious as a salad vegetable. The larger and older the leaves get, the more bitter but they can still be used in the same way as spinach. You can trim the flower petals right back and sprinkle them through mixed salad too.
Try wilting leaves down in a pan with a little butter or oil, then adding some chopped garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice, or frying them in some sesame oil with ginger before adding a few toasted sesame seeds.
You can also add them to pasta dishes (right at the end, with just enough cooking time to wilt). Their bitterness adds a great counterbalance to shellfish or sweet peppers or tomatoes.
Dandelion flower fritters:
The full flower heads make wonderful fritters.
Collect them on a nice sunny day when they are wide open and try to use them as soon as possible (before they close again).
Remove as much of the green stalk as you can, leaving just enough to hold the flower head together. Make a fritter batter by putting together in bowl:
- 55g egg (normally the average weight of one egg with the shell on),
- 55ml milk, and
- 55g self-raising flour.
- Beat the ingredients together well.
- Dip your flower heads into the batter and turn about to make sure they are well coated, then place flower side down into a pan with hot oil. Repeat this process.
- When the fritters are golden brown, turn them over and fry to golden on the other side.
- Remove from the pan with slotted spoon onto some absorbent paper, then put them onto serving dish and sweeten them with honey, agave syrup or maple syrup. If you prefer something savoury, try them with a mustard dip.
Dandelion jelly marmalade:
It’s a beautiful thing to see the golden preserve with all the petals suspended. I make the recipe used in John Wright’s Hedgerow River Cottage Handbook – it’s amazing with scones.
So, that’s all of this ‘nuisance‘ plant turned into something useful.