Foraging for Dandelions
Recently I got the privilege of being featured on the Animal Advocates You Tube channel to talk about foraging, another of my outdoor passions. If you want to check it out, here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JxHeyR-svI&t=114s
In the video, I promised to post a recipe for my Walnut-Dandelion Veggie Burgers. I always keep my promises…
Who doesn’t love a dandy? Okay, well, people who love perfect lawns don’t, but this is amazing food. The entire plant is edible and packed with nutrition. You can eat the green leaves raw or cooked. They get more bitter (is bitterer a word?) as time passes, and by fall they have some zing. But in spring, ah yes, just a little peppery. Toss them in salads, wraps or sandwiches; or saute with a little garlic. The greens have vitamins A, C, E, and K plus some folate and B vitamins.
And those little yellow flowers! Pure sunshine. Last year I made 10 jars of dandelion syrup and oh, just heaven on pancakes or waffles or biscuits. It tasted like HONEY. Also wonderful in tea.
The roots are VERY medicinal (not an FDA approved statement). This is actually the part of the plant that holds all the medicine-magic. You can dig up roots this time of year, or wait until fall. The roots can be roasted and made into an earthy beverage. It’s not just like coffee or tea, but it’s good. Try it if you dare. These are not FDA approved or studied statements, but the dandy root is packed with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detox actions. It can be a diuretic and work on the kidneys and liver.
As ever, forage mindfully, folks. No where sprayed, no where you’re trespassing, not too close to roads/house foundations/train tracks/dog walk areas.
This year, I was trying to recall a recipe I saw in a book last fall. I was staying at a B&B and there was a vintage foraging book on the coffee table. It had a dandelion veggie burger. Because I didn’t take a photo, I had to create my own. And it’s soooo good! Here it is:
Dandelion Walnut Burgers
Makes 6 burgers
1 cup walnuts, shelled
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2-3 cloves garlic
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup dandelion greens, washed
1 cup dandelion flowers (if flowers are no longer available, sub in other veg, like corn kernels or chopped arugula)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
2 Tablespoons flax seed meal
3 Tablespoons warm water
pinch red pepper flakes
salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Spread walnuts on a pan and toast until fragrant, about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add oats, breadcrumbs, and garlic to a food processor or blender. Mix until it looks powdery.
In a pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions until lightly just browned, and 5-6 minutes. Add to the food processor. Using a little water and remaining oil in the pan, saute dandelion greens until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Add to the food processor with fresh thyme, flax seed meal, water, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Process until a smooth paste begins to form.
To prepare dandelion flowers, shake off any ants, rinse under cool water, and remove the calyx, which is the green stem on the bottom.
Add toasted walnuts and dandy flowers to the food processor, and mix a final time.
Shape into six 1/2 cup burgers and saute over low until both sides are lightly browned.
Serve with your favorite fixins or store in the fridge/freezer.
About the Author:
Rissa Miller is a vegan of 26 years, but has been gardening her entire life. There are photos of her as a toddler eating dirt under a raspberry bush. Clearly, she was always meant to be vegan. When not tending plants, Rissa is the Senior Editor of the Vegetarian Journal magazine, co-operates Baltimore Vegan Drinks, and is studying part time to be a clinical herbalist via The Herbal Academy and Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. She is also a published author and poetess, regionally-produced playwright, and loves long walks in the woods with her dog, The Dude.