Don’t hate them! Not only are dandelions beautiful, the bees love them and we should too! They are delicious. Instead of pulling dandelions out of the lawn and heaving them into the compost, try cooking them. The flowers can be turned into fritters, cakes, wine, or jelly. The greens are great in salads when they’re young and tender, or briefly cooked after the plant has flowered.

Once the seed heads have developed, the greens are still edible, but they need a bit more cooking to tone down the bitterness. For they are bitter, that’s one of the attractions of dandelion greens; like radicchio, escarole and mustard, they add bite and interest to salads or cooked dishes (for salads, if you’re unused to dandelion greens, try combining them with sweeter lettuces).
As with any wild food, it’s important to be sure you’ve correctly identified dandelions—the familiar yellow flowers help, but pick with a knowledgeable friend or bring a good field guide with you. It’s also important to eat dandelions sparingly until you know you won’t have an allergic reaction. And, as always, avoid picking by busy roadsides, or where you think herbicides or pesticides might have been used.

When picking, gather the leaves of the dandelions together with one hand. With the other, slip your knife underneath the crown and slice so that each plant comes out of the earth in an attached bundle. This makes them much easier to clean—simply hold them by the crown and plunge up and down into the water.

Old-fashioned recipes for garden greens tell us to “wash in several waters.” This is good advice, particularly for dandelions—typically it takes five or six changes of water before they’re really clean. Before chopping, cut off the crown and remove any wilted leaves. If you get a flower or two into the mix, that’s great, but avoid the stems. As you may remember from childhood, they take bitterness to a mouth-puckering extreme.

Cheesy Dandelion Quesadillas

Cheesy Dandelion Quesadillas

Yield: 4 as entree or 8 as appetizer

The bitterness of young dandelion leaves mostly disappears in the cooking, but just enough remains to give these quesadillas some bite.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 packed cups chopped dandelion leaves, well washed
  • 6 oz mozzarella, grated
  • 4 oz old cheddar, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 homemade flour tortillas

Instructions

    1. Melt the butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When it’s sizzling, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the dandelion greens all at once and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in grated cheeses.
    2. Spread 2 to 3 tbsp of filling on one half of a tortilla and fold the other half over. Repeat until you’ve filled 8 tortillas and have used all the filling.
    3. Heat a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat and brush with oil. Cook each quesadilla on one side until golden brown. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown and cheese has melted.
    4. Keep cooked quesadillas warm in the oven at 200 degrees F, until they’re all cooked and you’re ready to serve. Cut each one in half before serving. Great on their own or with a scoop of tomato salsa.
Homemade Flour Tortillas

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Yield: 16 8" tortillas

Homemade tortillas freeze well. They can also be turned into thin crusts for pizza, or used as excellent tortilla chips. Just brush each side with oil, sprinkle with salt, cut into wedges and bake for about 6 minutes per side at 350 degrees F.
You’ll need 8 tortillas for the quesadilla recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

    1. Whisk dry ingredients together and make a well in the centre. Pour in oil and water. Stir until a shaggy dough has formed. Transfer to a counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.
    2. Divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, flatten with the palm of the hand and dust with flour. Cover with a tea towel and let the balls of dough rest for 30 minutes. This rest will allow the gluten to relax, making it much easier to roll out the dough.
    3. Roll each piece to a thin round of about 8 inches; thin enough that the dough is almost transparent. Dust each round with flour and stack on a large plate under a tea towel.
    4. Heat a dry, cast-iron frying pan over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Have a second plate and tea towel ready for stacking the cooked tortillas. Cook the tortillas on one side for about 1 minute, until a few brown spots appear on the underside. Flip and cook the other side for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
    5. Don’t worry if big air bubbles form, they will collapse as the tortilla cools under the tea towel. Remove each tortilla to the plate and cover as soon as it’s cooked. The stacked tortillas will create steam and keep from drying out or hardening.