Three Recipes for Dandelion
Three Recipes for Dandelion
It really wasn’t my intension to post another recipe this month, let alone another soup recipe. But with the lowered air pollution due to the enclosure, we are currently experiencing, the cleaner air quality has brought glorious weather and a bounty of flowers and foliage ripe for the picking.
Foraging is a favourite pastime of mine. I need little excuse for long walks with basket and secateurs in hand, heading to wherever the pickings are riches: wilder areas in parks, small woodland enclosures have there place for the urban forager in the absence of rolling fields, forests and hedgerows.
Our bodies, and especially our livers, yearn to cleans themselves at this time of year, and nature provides us with the foods to do just that. And so, in the spirit of replenishment, detoxification and self-care, this months post brings three simple recipes to bring forth your inner wildling and assist your body’s natural spring detox.
It almost seems too perfect that the humble dandelion, considered a pesky weed by some, should be so abundant in springtime just when our bodies need their cleansing and replenishing powers after long winters of starchy foods and inactivity. Dandelions have a long list of nutritional properties: vitamins A, B-complex, C, E and K. And minerals in the form of iron, boron, calcium, silicon, magnesium and potassium. Plus amino and essential fatty acids. It has been used for centuries across many cultures for its healing potential; as a liver tonic, to stimulate bile production aiding the digestion of fats in the diet, and a stimulant for a sluggish immune system.
Folklore is rich with positive dandelion tales. In Medieval times dandelion flowers were woven into wedding bouquets to bring good fortune to the newlyweds; a charming Medieval childhood game was to hold a dandelion flower under the chin to foretell if the child would grow up to become wealthy. The stronger the glow, the more prosperous they would become. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, dandelions were a symbol of love, wishes, faithfulness, divination and represented the sun. Dandelions were also considered an excellent natural barometer; the feathery pappus hairs which close when they detect moisture in the air were used to predict the onset of bad weather.
As a food, everything about this plant can be eaten from root to flower. In French cuisine, leaves are used in a salad called Salade de Pissenlit (the French word for dandelion is Pissenlit because of its diuretic properties), and a dandelion vinaigrette is considered a delicacy. During the first and second world wars when coffee and other commodities were scarce, dandelion roots were used as a coffee substitute. And, of course, let’s not forget dandelion flower fritters.
These are only a few of the almost endless uses for this little gem of a weed whose appearance is as welcome as the spring sun. Disdained by many, yet giving of-itself in a multitude of ways.
You Will Need
2 Generous Handfuls Dandelion Leaves (young leaves are best)
1 White Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Celery Sticks
1/2 Litre Vegetable Stock
Rind from Parmesan Cheese (Optional)
Knob of Butter or 1tbs Olive Oil
Zest of 1 Lemon
Handful Dandelion Petals (reserve a few petals or a whole flowerhead to garnish)
Handful Dandelion Buds
Salt and Pepper
Clean the dandelion leaves and flowers in a bowl of cold water and about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Drain in a colander, then spread out onto a clean tea towel removing any unwanted bits.
Have a pot of boiling water and a bowl of ice water ready. Chop the dandelion leaves, blanch them in the boiling water for a minute or two, then plunge into the ice water. Drain then set aside.
Next chop the onion, garlic and celery, and sauté in a large pan with your chosen oil. Cook until the celery has softened slightly. Add the stock, then the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30-35 minutes, occasionally stirring, until all ingredients are soft. Once cooked, remove the Parmesan rind, adjust the seasoning, then remove from the heat and blend the soup with a stick blender. Garnish with the reserved flowerhead or petals.
Dandelion Petal Butter
This vibrantly golden butter melts beautifully over boiled new potatoes or spring vegetables.
You Will Need
125g unsalted grass-fed Butter (at room temperature)
Sea Salt Flakes
14 Flower Heads (inner petals only)
In a mixing bowl, add the butter and petals, whip together with a wooden spoon, and salt to taste. Keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.
Dandelion Flower Tea
Dandelion flowers contain antioxidants, and is naturally high vitamin A which is beneficial for eye health, it alleviates headaches, backaches and menstrual pain. And, in Korean folk medicine, dandelion flowers are used to improve blood circulation, skin infections and oedema.
You Will Need
2 Generous Handfuls Dandelion Flower Heads
1 Litre Boiling Water
2 tbs Honey
Mint Leaves (Optional)
Place the flower heads (and mint if using) in a large heatproof bowl or jar, pour over boiling water, cover and leave to steep for 20-25 minutes. Strain the tea through a sieve, transfer to a sterilised container, add honey to sweeten and store in the fridge. The tea is delicious warm with a slice of lemon or cold over ice.
Soup recipe inspiration: The Art of Edible Flowers by Rebecca Sullivan.