Friday, May 4, 2012


Remember when you were young and you would pick a dandelion and give it to your mom and she would fuss over it, putting it into a vase to show it off, or how we would take a dandelion and tickle someone’s chin to see if they liked boys or girls.  If we blew the seeds into the air, we believed we would receive our wishes we made.  Somewhere along the line from childhood to adulthood we are taught they are worthless ugly weeds and should be destroyed and not allowed to grow in our perfect lawns (media marketing). 

Mom and I were talking the other day about these little flowers that God gave us and how many of us call it a weed when it is edible free food and loaded in vitamins and anti-oxidants, and can be eaten from blossom to root.  Maybe we should give them a try and stop spraying them.  You can make tea from them, a salad, soups, jelly, syrup, and even wine. 

My brother Dion, the wine maker, used to make dandelion wine.  His wife Betty would pick the plentiful yellow flowers in a large lot near by their home.  If your picking them, make sure they have not been sprayed.

Dandelion leaves provide vitamins A and C, (the vitamin A content is higher than that of carrots).  Dandelion flowers are also one of the best sources of lecithin, a nutrient that elevates the brains acetylcholine and may play a role in boosting memory and mental focus.  God knows I need that!  Lecithin is also good for liver problems.

Drink a cup of dandelion tea in the morning to increase regularity. It is a natural diuretic and gentle laxative that doesn't rob the body of potassium.

Squeeze the juice of a dandelion flower stem and apply the milky juice to a wart and leave it to dry on the wart. Repeat as necessarily until wart falls off.

If you like bitter greens and your have the courage to try something new, here are few recipes for you.  People have been eating them for centuries.

Dandelion Tea

1 quart cleaned dandelion destemmed leaves
1 quart (4 cups) water

Put leaves and water in a pot.

Bring just to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let tea steep for 5 to 10 minutes.

Strain and press liquid out of spent leaves.   You have just made dandelion tea.  You may add lemon or sweeten with honey or sugar if you like because it will be bitter.  This is also supposed to be good for a stomach ache. 

You can make individual cups of tea if you use a tea ball.  Fill the ball with cut fresh leaves and steep in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Dandelion Leaf Jelly

You can make jelly out of most anything.  I use a standard recipe and just steep different herbs and add to the jelly recipe.  You can do the same with basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, mint, etc. 

1 1/2 cups packed fresh dandelion leaves.
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 1/4 cups boiling water (I have also used apple juice for more flavor and nutrition)
3 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 (6 fluid ounce) container liquid pectin

Rinse off the dandelion leaves and place them into a large saucepan. Crush with wooden spoon, masher or the bottom of a jar.  Add water (or apple juice), and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and measure out 1 2/3 cups. 

Place 1 2/3 cups strained tea into a saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice. Mix in the sugar, and place the pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is boiling; stir in the pectin. Boil the mixture for a full minute while stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim foam off the top using a large metal spoon. Transfer the mixture to hot sterile jars, and seal. Process the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Dandelion Flower Preserves

2 cups dandelion blossoms, separated from leaves and bracts
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 ¼ teaspoons pectin

Clean and separate the flower petals from their stems.  You will just want the petals.  

Boil flowers in water on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Strain petals from liquid and return liquid to pot to boil.

Add sugar, lemon juice and pectin, following your particular pectin’s instructions.

Boil and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, skimming the foam, until the top surface becomes glasslike (2 or more minutes).

Transfer the mixture to hot sterile jars, and seal. Process the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Makes about 2 pints.

Dandelion Salad 

Vinegar and Oil Dressing

1/4 cup vinegar
1/8 cup water
1 rounded tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 cup olive or vegetable oil


Chopped crisp bacon
Chopped hard boiled eggs
Shredded cheese or Parmesan cheese

Pick the whole plant.  Wash the dandelion greens in water in the sink rinsing at least twice.  Cut off the root and put the dandelion greens in a clean bowl.  Pull the leaves apart. Be sure to include the buds (which have not flowered) -- they're tasty!

Combine dressing ingredients in a container with a tightly sealing lid. Shake until sugar is dissolved.

Pour dressing over greens and toss to coat. Serve with optional toppings if desired or alone.

Spicy Dandelion Greens with Onions and Garlic

1 pound dandelion greens
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of chili flakes 
1/4 cup cooking oil
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Discard dandelion green roots; wash greens well in salted water. Cut leaves into 2-inch pieces. Cook greens uncovered in small amount of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Sauté onion, garlic, and chili flakes in oil. Drain greens; add to onion garlic mixture. Taste dandelion greens and season with salt and pepper. Serve dandelion greens with grated Parmesan cheese.
Sautéed Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens
1 slice of bacon or salt pork
Balsamic vinegar

Fry bacon or salt pork to release the fat.

Clean greens and add dandelion greens to fat, remove from heat and cover tightly.

Let greens sit for 3 minutes to steam.

Serve with Balsamic vinegar.

Only pick from unsprayed lawns and areas away from traffic.  Avoid stems as they are particularly bitter.  Steam only enough to wilt the greens.

Dandelion Pesto

Because dandelion leaves are tougher than basil, use the food processor to make this version of pesto. A blender would work as well.

This makes quite a bit and you can freeze whatever you don’t use, or cut the recipe in half.

12 ounces washed and cleaned dandelion leaves
1 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Put about one-third of the dandelion greens in the food processor or blender with the olive oil and chop for a minute, scraping down the sides. Add the remaining dandelion greens in two batches, until they’re all finely chopped up.

Add the garlic cloves, pine nuts, salt, and Parmesan, and process until everything is a smooth puree.

Taste, and add more salt if necessary. If it’s too thick, you can thin it with more olive oil.

The pesto can be refrigerated in a jar for up to four days. The top may darken, which is normal. You can pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent that. It can also be frozen for up to two months.

Dandelion Creamed Soup

2 pounds (about 6 cups) dandelion greens, trimmed of stems and washed
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock
2 large leeks, white and light parts only, cleaned and sliced
1 carrot, cleaned and diced
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Dandelion buds and/or flower petals for garnish

If using more mature or very bitter tasting greens, blanch them in a pot of boiling salted water, then drain and squeeze out the excess water, chop and set aside.

Heat butter or oil in a large pot over medium high heat, add greens, carrot and leeks and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes.

Add stock and simmer for about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in milk, cook stirring frequently, until slightly thickened.

Puree mix in a tightly-covered blender until smooth, taking care with the hot liquid.  Put a towel over the blender for safety.  Season with salt and pepper, and add Dijon mustard.

Dandelion Egg Salad

4 hard-boiled eggs
2/3 cup dandelion greens, chopped and cooked
1 Tbsp fresh chives
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Boil eggs hard for 7 minutes.  Chop eggs coarsely.  Add cooked chopped dandelion greens, sugar, mustard and chives.  Mix gently.

Add mayonnaise and mix just enough to coat ingredients.

Dandelion Pasta Salad

3 cups cooked pasta
1½ cups diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup dandelion greens, pre-cooked
2 Tbsp minced onions
8 olives, sliced
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt

Boil pasta in salt water.

Dice your tomatoes and salt a little; drain well. 

Sauté onions in olive oil until tender. Add your tomatoes and greens and cook until tender.  Add your sliced olives and vinegar.  Salt to taste (may not need since olives are salty).

Dandelion Blossom Syrup 

This is an old world European traditional recipe. You can use it as a substitute for honey in any recipe if you want a wild taste.

1 quart dandelion petals only (take off all green and stems)
1 quart (4 cups) water
4 cups sugar
½ lemon or orange chopped, peel and all

Put blossom petals and water in a pot.

Bring just to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit overnight.

The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent petals.   

Add sugar and sliced citrus and heat slowly, stirring now and again, for several hours or until reduced to a thick, honey-like syrup.

Can in half-pint.

This recipe makes a little more than 1 pint.  If you are going to the hard work of this, you may wish to triple or quadruple this recipe.

Dandelion Baklava

This recipe involves using Fillo sheets, which are extremely thin sheets of pastry dough, usually sold in the freezer department of your grocery store.  Fillo can be fussy to work with.  You need to keep it moist so when not using it keep it under a damp towel to keep it from drying out and cracking. 
1/2 box Fillo sheets
1 stick butter
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup Dandelion Blossom syrup

Combine nuts with sugar and spices.

Melt butter.

Layer 8 sheets Fillo into a buttered 9 x13 pan, brushing every other sheet with butter using a pastry brush.

Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 of the nut mixture.

Layer 8 more sheets. Sprinkle the rest of the nut mixture.

Layer the rest of the fillo sheets, brush the top layer generously with butter.

Cut carefully into squares with a sharp knife before baking.

Bake at 375 for about one-half hour.  When slightly browned, remove from oven.

Pour room temperature Dandelion Blossom syrup over the hot baklava, while it is still piping hot.  Let cool and serve.  

You can substitute the dandelion syrup with maple syrup and get a traditional Baklava. 

Dandelion Blossom Cake

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup Dandelion Blossom Syrup
1½ cups oil
4 eggs
2 cups Dandelion blossom petals (pull flower apart to get only petals)
1 can crushed pineapple
½ cup walnuts
½ cup coconut

Sift together dry ingredients.

In separate bowl, beat sugar, dandelion syrup, oil and eggs together until creamy.  Add dandelion petals, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut, and mix well.  Stir dry ingredients into the mixture until well blended.

Pour batter into a greased, 9 x 13 cake pan and bake at 350° for about 40 minutes.

1  8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 or 2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Dandelion Blossom Pancakes

1 cup white flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
¼ cup oil
½ cup Dandelion Blossom syrup or honey
2 cups milk
1 cup Dandelion blossom petals only

Mix dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and mix together thoroughly  (Note: the secret of keeping pancake batter from getting lumpy is to be sure to add all the wet ingredients before mixing. 
Adjust consistency by adding a little more milk or a little more flour if it’s too thick or thin.  Pancake batter should be thin enough to pour, but not runny.

Cook on oiled grill.

Top with butter and Dandelion Blossom syrup.

Dandelion Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
½ cup Dandelion Blossom syrup (or honey)
¼ cup oil or butter
1 cup milk (buttermilk is best!)
1 cup Dandelion blossom petals

Mix dry ingredients together.  Add all the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Pour batter into a 9 x 9 pan, or 10-inch cast iron frying pan.  Bake at 375° for 25 minutes.

Serve hot with butter and Dandelion Blossom syrup.

Make a wish to be happy.  May God bless you and yours.  

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