Summer is almost here and Dandelions are everywhere. Your first thought should definitely NOT be “I need to pick up some herbicide” or “time to get my gloves and start weeding” it should be “I can make beautiful flower crafts and fabulous FOOD”!
I have always loved dandelions. They are flowers the color of the sun, bees and butterflies enjoy their pollen, they are plentiful and they are edible. Most people do not even realize when ordering or buying a box of high end salads, like “Spring Mix” that they are in fact eating dandelion greens. Or “weeds” as so many like to refer to them as. You can even forage for them yourself for free, and since most public parks do not use pesticides they are organic. Using the greens in salads can get boring, you can add them to pesto and green smoothies too. What even less people seem to know is that the actual yellow flower itself is edible, and can be used to make: wines, teas, jellies, coffee, and even sorbet!
Besides eating them what else can this “weed” possibly be good for? Well, when you were a kid did you make dandelion head wreaths? I would spend hours making them, then finding the flowers that had “puffed” so I could blow and make my wishes while wearing my flower crown. I remember playing games with my friends where we were fairy princesses. Ahh, but I digress as drift off into those wonderful memories….
still-life-consisting-lilac-dandelions-15042738 Do not underestimate their flower power. Dandelions can look simply amazing in an arrangement. The bright yellow looks especially nice against a nice purple flower, like lilacs. You can also use the flowers as edible garnishes. The flowers are bitter, but if crystallized with sugar they make beautiful and yummy cake decorations.
I find blogging to be very difficult sometimes, I have so much admiration for those who can do it. I am good at talking about dandelions though, I could go on and on forever. I will share a recipe and craft instructions below which I hope you enjoy. I am going to have to save some more for upcoming blog posts, there are a lot! I am sure I will come up with or learn of a few more as well – It will be just Dandy, so stay tuned:)
Dandelion Greens w/ Balsamic Vinegar & Pine Nuts
2-2.5 lbs freshly picked dandelion greens
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, (whole or pieces, both will work)
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use Pink Himalayan)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1) Clean your greens! Trim off thickest parts of the stems and discard along with any tough leaves. Roughly tear or chop the remaining greens and put them in a large bowl
2) You can roast your pine nuts in the pan and then put them to the side before adding oil, it is optional but really brings the flavor out
3) Heat your oil in a small skillet over a medium low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is golden. Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper.
4) Pour your hot vinaigrette, then your pine nuts over the greens and mix. If using cheese sprinkle on top after mixing
5) Serve immediately, and ENJOY
Crystallized Dandelion Flowers
About 1 lb of Dandelion flower “heads”
Superfine organic cane sugar
A small soft bristle paint brush
1) Pick through your dandelions and discard any flowers that are losing a lot of petals or look or smell bad. Run them under water to make sure they are clean and free of any dirt or insects. Leave them in a colander, on a baking sheet, or a wire rack to air dry thoroughly.
2) Beat an egg white lightly in a bowl. *Add a few drops of water if your egg white is on the thicker side. Break off any remaining stems from the flowers, but be careful not to break it too close causing all those petals to come lose. Hold your flower by the base while using the fine paint brush to paint the petals with the egg white. With dandelions you will not actually be able to get into all the petals, but make sure the tips are covered to almost halfway down and the sides. It does not require a thick layer, but a complete covering of the whole flower is key
3) Place the painted flower into a bowl with superfine sugar. Using a spoon, gently scoop and sprinkle the sugar over the the flower. Be careful not to bury the flower as this may crush and damage the petal, ruining the shape. Once the petal is fully covered with the sugar, remove it from the bowl and carefully shake off any extra loose sugar
4) Place the sugared flower onto parchment paper and allow it to dry uncovered for about 10-14 hours
5) Repeat the process to produce as many flowers as are required. Make extra crystallized flowers in case some become damaged during painting or sugaring
6) Once your flowers dry they should be used as soon as possible. If adding to a cake or cupcakes, especially if in a warm area, decorate immediately before serving
7) They can also be stored in the fridge (Veggie drawer) , or a cool dark and dry spot for a few days in an airtight container. (Make sure not to stuff them too tight into the container)
I have made these before and been very rough with them, I had cleaned them in a salad spinner, dipped them in the egg whites, put them back in the spinner for a few slow spins to remove globs of egg white, then threw them in a brown bag with the sugar and shook them up gently, then laid them out. They came out okay, but if doing it using my “rough method ” please use your own judgment and start off slow and gentle:) You will determine how many eggs and how much sugar you need as you go along.
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Peace, Love & Dandelions