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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dandelions – Weeds or food

Actually, both
By Will Collette

Now that everything is starting to grow, you’re going to see lots of dandelions coming up all over the place. In the early spring, those young dandelion leaves are at their prime as a nutritious, tender green suitable for salads or soups.

If you haven’t slathered your yard with pesticides, they’re yours for the picking. They’re rich in vitamins A, C and K in particular, with a nice amount of other essential vitamins and minerals. Best to pick them from plants before they bloom. Once that happens, the leaves tend to be more bitter.

The flowers can make a delicious, though much higher calorie dish, fried dandelion flowers.

The trick here is to remove as much green material from the dandelion flower head as possible, while keeping the flower head intact. The green parts lend bitterness, so you want to minimize that, while the yellow flowers are mild-tasting and faintly sweet.

Before frying, you can dredge the dandelion flowers in seasoned flour or dip in batter. Personally, I like the combination of dipping, first in beaten egg, then in some seasoned polenta, which is what I’ve described below. The quantities are approximate and the seasonings can, of course, be changed as suits your mood and taste.

You’ll need:

approx. 20 dandelion flower heads, stalks and extraneous green parts removed
olive oil for frying
2 tblsp polenta (cornmeal)
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of dried oregano
1 egg, beaten

The Steps:
  • Rinse your dandelion flowers and gently pat dry using some kitchen paper.
  • Place a frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add a thin layer of oil to the pan.
  • Mix the polenta with the saltblack pepper,dried thyme and dried oregano.
  • Dip the flowers first in the beaten egg and then in the seasoned polenta.
  • Fry in batches, stalk side up, for around 3 minutes or until golden. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Eat as a snack or use to surprise, and maybe even delight, unsuspecting family and friends.
The Variations:

You can vary the herbs to suit your taste or go all out by dipping the flowers in an eggy batter and deep frying them.

The Results:

Snack for 2-3