superfood. This Spring I came across a number of articles and blogs touting the health benefits of this common weed and I thought I'd tap into dandelion's benefits myself. I've eaten the young greens before (by mixing them with other salad greens for a bit of tang), but I've never tried eating the dandelion's nutritious roots or flowers.
In April, when I was hired to dig up the dandelions from a neighbor's gardens, I jumped on the opportunity to collect her overgrown weeds. The roots of her plants were typically over a foot deep and up to 3/4 inch in diameter; the leaves were too large to eat raw in salads. I gathered two plastic shopping bags full of whole dandelion plants and found three different recipes to try. The roots and greens can be roasted and sauteed (respectively) and eaten right away, but I chose recipes that would allow me to enjoy the dandelions at a later point.
Dried Roasted Dandelion Roots. In this recipe, I chopped the dandelion roots into small pieces and roasted them in the oven for two hours at 250 degrees F. The oven door was propped open so that the roots would dry out while they were roasting. This process was quite energy consumptive and I roasted a lot of roots, so I was really hoping that they would turn out ok. Roasted dandelion roots are typically used to brew a coffee-like drink. I just tried brewing this drink for the first time and am drinking my first cup right now. I simmered the roots for 10 minutes and added honey. Although it tastes nothing like coffee (perhaps I didn't make it correctly), the roots have made a pleasant tea. Even Mark like it. He says that it tastes like Cap'n Crunch.
Dried Dandelion Leaves. I borrowed Jennie's dehydrator and dried a bunch of clean leaves, then used my coffee grinder to grind them into a fine powder. Dehydrating them was a pretty quick process (I filled the dehydrator three times) and the leaves reduced into a much smaller volume. Dried dandelion leaves are typically used in a tea or are taken by capsule. I've only used the powder twice by adding a little bit to pots of soup. I couldn't detect that the dandelion leaves were in the soup and it seems like a good way to secretly add some nutritional value to a meal.
Dandelion-Infused Vinegar. I was most excited about this recipe as I thought that dandelion vinegar would make a great vinaigrette... and I was right. The vinegar was super easy to make: I stuffed a bunch of clean dandelion leaves and blossoms into a jar and poured apple cider vinegar to the top. After seeping the leaves for a few weeks, I used a blender to blend the contents of the jar, then allowed them to seep for a couple more weeks. I then strained the vinegar, which resulted in a greenish, tangy-tasting vinegar (that is now infused with vitamins, minerals, etc). I've been using it to make an excellent vinaigrette that tastes a lot like Italian dressing.
I'm only just beginning to use the dandelion products that I've made, but have been happy with the results so far. I would definitely like to try other ways of preparing and eating dandelion roots, leaves, and blossoms and would encourage others to read about dandelion's health benefits and try it for themselves. Wouldn't it be great we stopped poisoning ourselves and our environment by trying to kill dandelions and instead embraced them as a delicious and nutritious food?!
Have you ever tried eating dandelions?