Did you know that dandelions can be used in cooking? Instead of mowing them down, harvest them for greens, soup, jelly, pesto, and even wine! Learn more about dandelion’s benefits and find a selection of dandelion recipes to try.
A History of Dandelion Delicacies
Native to Eurasia, this humble member of the aster family has traveled far and wide. Believe it or not, the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) was not always thought of as a weed. Cultures around the world thought of the dandelion as a “common herb” and have used every part of the plant as both nutritious food and powerful medicine.
The dandelion is rich in nutrients, including protein, calcium, iron, and Vitamins A and C.
Dandelions are good for digestion and may ease rheumatism or liver problems. In fact, one of the plant’s common nicknames in French—pissenlit (pee-the-bed)—attests to dandelion’s use in traditional healing cultures as a valuable diuretic agent (rich in potassium).
Dandelions are so abundant that they’re easy to harvest! And most of the plant can be used—flowers, leaves, and roots. Yes, even the flowers can be eaten!
Eat Your Greens
As with most greens, the plant leaves are best when they are young and tender. Ideally, gather dandelion leaves before the plant blooms as they will become increasingly bitter and tough.
Young dandelion leaves make an excellent addition to salads, bring a sharp taste to the mix.
Or, the young leaves can be looked ike spinach, sautéed in oil and garlic like many leafy greens.
Try one of these recipes with your next summer dinner:
- Kentucky Dandelion Greens (great with cornbread!)
- Wilted Dandelin Greens Salad
- Dandelion Soup
- Dandelion Pesto
Eat Your Flowers!
One of our favorite recipes is a Dandelion Syrup (also called Dandelion Honey) which you make from the flowers. (See photo at the top of this page.)
It’s great over over pancakes and waffles or mixed with oatmeal. Or stir into tea or a carbonated drink which is an old-style European favorite!
Pick newly yellow dandelion heads (ones on short stems) and try these yummy Fried Dandelion Blossoms
Photo: Lyudmila Mikhailovskaya/shutterstock
For something spreadable, try Dandelion Jelly! Harvest 1 quart of bright, fresh dandelion blossoms!
Dandelion Jelly. Photo by minadezhda/Shutterstock.
Photo: Vuk Saric/shutterstock
Even the dandelion roots can be used for making a caffeine-free coffee-like drink. For a refreshingly different brew in the morning, try Dandelion Root Coffee.
A couple safety notes: Obviously, only eat dandelions from areas that don’t use chemical weedkillers; we’d also avoid public areas where dogs may have peed on them. If you are foraging on public land, it’s harvest sparingly do you don’t disturb the plant population and leave plenty for the pollinators! Learn more about safety harvesting dandelions.
Do you eat your weeds? Ever made food or drink with dandelions? Share your recipes or comments below! We’d love to hear from you.