…and more dandelions

April 21, 2009

Tried dandelion pesto yesterday. With walnuts. You know the drill– a couple cloves garlic, a dash of olive oil, some toasted walnuts, and a handful of greens. Not bad, considering that I thought the greens would be too bitter at this point. 

I made a pasta dish with garlic, wine, sundried tomatoes, white beans (cannellini I canned last week), and the pesto. I think it would be better as a plain old bean dish rather than over pasta, but that’s not the point– the point is, the dandelion pesto worked pretty well in it.  Not at all like eating your lawn. That said, neither was it quite as exciting as I had hoped, so I added a couple of tablespoonsful of basil pesto to help it out. The dominant flavor was still dandelion, though.

Pretty sure I won’t be mixing up big batches of it and freezing it the way I do basil and oregano pestos.  It was good, but not must-have-it-all-year-round good.  Something to look forward to having once or twice every spring? Definitely.

Dandelion cuisine

April 20, 2009

I keep thinking I’ll come back here and talk about marketing some more, but I’ve found I’m just not into that at the moment. Spring has hit, I’m into cooking.  And also getting ready for art shows, but mostly spring and gardening and cooking.

Since we never put chemicals on our lawn (yes, it shows), and since (relatedly) we always have a bumper crop of dandelions, this year I remembered to try cooking with them before they got too big. A couple of weeks ago I had a go at the greens. Observations: a) not bad! And eating them makes me feel virtuous and redeems my weedy lawn somewhat; b) they’re a bit much as the only green in a salad, but an excellent component when mixed with others; c)  I just can’t bring myself to eat plain sauteed greens, meh; d) soup! I’ve been really into bean soups lately– made one with black eyed peas, onions, curry, smoked sausage or ham, and some dandelion greens thrown in and I think that’s the winner.  They add a nice layer of subtle flavor to the broth, and a lot of nutrition. 

If you search the internet for dandelion recipes, it seems like you get the same handful of recipes that everyone’s copied from each other. No one seems to be doing much innovating in this department.  What I want to inspire me is Iron Chef: Battle Dandelion.  Now the greens in the yard are getting a bit big and going to flower, which if I believe what they say means that they will be more bitter and less tasty. I’m going to have to check this out for myself, I think. 

Experiment 2 was dandelion flowers. There are three recipes out there (maybe four, depending on how you count) for these: wine, jelly/syrup, fritters.  I gave the syrup a try, figuring that that would be the easiest thing to do to give me the best idea about the flavor and whether I would like it enough to bother with anything else. Result? Not worth the work. It’s a pretty golden color, but not very interesting.  Flowers in a salad or as garnish would be fine, but that’s about it in my book. 

The other often-cited use for dandelion is the roasting and grinding of the root for some sort of hot beverage. I’m not even gonna bother, though I’ll keep it in mind if any post-apolcalyptic scenarios preventing tea importation develop.