Spring is here! At least where I am... And what comes with spring but dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)! Often considered the bane of homeowners everywhere. I feel the opposite, I find them to be cheery with their bright yellow flowers. I also like a wilder looking lawn, rather than perfectly maintained, it is better for the environment, the water supply, and it takes up less of my time. Aside from adding colour to the lawn, dandelions have several health benefits. All parts of the flower are edible. The flowers can be battered and fried into fritters:
Gather approximately thirty or so dandelion flowers from a pesticide-free location (the side of the road or your neighbours abnormally green lawn are not ideal). Rinse them and pat dry.
Next, mix together about 1 1/4 c each of organic cornmeal and organic milk (can substitute almond milk or soy for a vegan option) and one beaten egg (or 1T *(T= tablespoon) flax seed oil beaten with a T or two of warm water for vegans) to make a batter. Add a pinch of sea salt and give it a stir.
Add enough oil (I like olive oil) to a pan to pool in the bottom of a pan on medium-high heat. Holding your dandelion flowers by the green stem-bit, dip them gently in the batter and place flower side down in the hot oil.
Cook until a spatula slides easily underneath and then flip the blossom over. It should look golden brown, not too dark. Fry until the other side is also golden brown. Once finished, remove and place on a lint-free towel (like a flour-sack towel) to drain a little. Enjoy while still warm!
The leaves of the dandelion are also edible and are reminiscent of spinach or similar. Collect young leaves--springtime is usually the best time because they are more tender and have not toughened up or as bitter. You can eat them raw in salads and the like, or blanch them:
Rinse the leaves well with several rinses of cold water. Remove any discoloured leaves or leaves that look unhealthy.
Set a pot of water to boil and toss in a t *(t=teaspoon) of salt. Toss in the leaves once the water is boiling and let them boil for a couple of minutes. Removed to a colander to drain well. You can either use them immediately, or pat dry and freeze for later.
The roots can be used to make a coffee substitute/a tea. Dandelion root tea is good for monthly lady complaints if drunk during the week before menstruation. (These statements have not been approved by the FDA, blah blah blah).
Collect roots in spring time. I used a trowel sunk into the ground, gently loosening the earth on all sides and then using it to leaver it out of the ground. Dandelion roots run deep, by loosening the earth on all sides you lessen your chances of breaking the root. (You can purchase dandelion root digging tools, but I already have a trowel, so why buy something else?)
Rinse the roots well, I like to use a medium-strength dish brush. Let them dry for a half-hour.
Cut them into half-inch/ inch chunks and place on a baking pan. Roast them in a 350 degree F oven for a couple hours, checking and turning if necessary.
Don't let them burn, but they should by pretty dry when they are done and will smell roasted and earthy.
To enjoy as a tea, place a teaspoon of the dried root in a tea strainer and over with 8-10 oz of fresh boiled water. Let steep covered for 10 minutes. If you desire it sweeter, you can add some honey, yum!