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Monday, April 9, 2012

Behold! The Extremely Tasty Dandelion Blossom!

     Once you have tried this recipe you will never again run off to the hardware store for a bag of Scott’s Dandelion killer. You will also realize how short the dandelion season actually is. It only lasts about three weeks with a short spell come September with its cool rains.
     When I lived up north, north of Pennsylvania in upstate New York, the Italian ladies would gather dandelion leaves, sauté them with olive oil and garlic, then marinate them in a blend of seasonings and vinegar. They’d pack them in a jar in the refrigerator and serve them as garnishes.
     I moved south(ward) to Pennsylvania and found that the people around here gather the same leaves, douse them with hot vinegar and bacon dressing, or throw them into a ham soup and eat them that way.
However, and I got this out of a Native American Cookbook I picked up at the Rez many years ago, the blossom itself can also be eaten. Who would think?
     I tried this recipe when my kids were very young and not into vegetables. At a point, as kids are growing up, they become suspicious of anything green or orange when it comes to eating. This suspicion is common among children. Supposedly, it helps them learn what is safe and what isn’t.  Until they see other people (like parents) eating orange and green things a great many times and not keeling over, they stay away from vegetables.
     However, the night I served dandelion blossom, breaded and fried - they gobbled them up! No questions asked. No suspicious glances in our direction wondering if we were going to fall off our chairs writhing in pain. They just ate them. And asked for more. Whoa! I thought. Are we evolved from cows? Rabbits? Dandelion greens and blossoms are loaded with vitamins and supposedly (and I did look this up many years ago) you can eat a LOT of blossom and not get sick. You can’t overload. We figure about a dozen to a serving. So here goes:

     Fried Dandelion Blossom

-Gather dandelion flower heads preferably away from the road.

-Set out two bowls - one with one egg and one tablespoon of water added, mixed in.

-Set out another bowl with anything for breading: flour with salt and pepper, Italian style bread crumbs and some flour, flour, bread crumbs - doesn’t matter. Whatever you have.

-Rinse the colander full of blossom in water. Not because they are necessarily dirty, but I found that the water helps them steam soft within the breading. Otherwise they have a fuzzy texture to the tongue which I don’t find pleasant.

-Dip the flattened out blossom in the egg.

-Flatten out the blossom and dip it into the breading mixture.

-Fry in oil, olive oil, butter and oil - whatever - till golden brown on the blossom side then flip and let it fry some on the stem side.

-That’s it!

     Sometimes I add chopped chives or spring onion, both of which come up around the same time as do the blossoms blossom.
     I have to admit, I get a kick out of Scott’s Lawn Care ads that show up on TV and in newspaper flyers and show a suburban homeowner so distressed over all those damn dandelions on the lawn. So Scott’s says “Use this and it will kill them all!” Right. For all I know they could be sprinkling the lawn with flour because dandelion blossoms only bloom for about three weeks in the spring when the weather is cool and rainy. Sprinkle your lawn with The Dandelion Killer and sure, they'll disappear - they’ll be gone in a couple of weeks anyway.  To everything there is a season.

     But I will tell you this for a brass fact, once you start frying up the blossom you’ll be sorry to see them go. They’re blooming now! Go get ’em!

PS - I'll lay a dime to dollar that a bunch of Scott's Lawn Care ads show up on this page and will tell you to contact them if you have a dandelion problem.  Go ahead - contact them - and give them this recipe.  Maybe next year they'll be telling us how to grow dandelions.

PPS - Because the dandelion season is so short it is possible to bread them and freeze them for later.  Just lay them out on a paper towel on a cookie sheet and set them in the freezer.  Once frozen, dump them into a freezer bag.  They taste just as good as fresh when fried and actually make for easy cooking this way.  I wonder when we'll see them at the grocery store done up like this. 

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Comments on this blog are welcome. Ask questions, post your own experiences about the subject, post recipes, helpful tips, stories. Thanks! ~Bev