Dandelions are generally considered as a weed to most people, but to a chef it’s a welcome addition to any salad! They have bright green, spikey leaves and bright yellow flowers that brighten up any meadow from January to November.
Equipment Needed - Before you set off, the following tools are needed to help you: a pair of rubber gloves, a suitable container to store the leaves and flowers in, a pair of sharp scissors and a sharp knife.
Picking - When picking dandelions remember to pick from an area not close to any roads, and it is best to go off the beaten track a bit so the plants are not contaminated and rarely come into contact with people. All of the plant can be harvested from the flowers to the leaves and even the flower stems.
Where to Find - Dandelions are found pretty much anywhere and everywhere! From your garden, to sprouting out of a crack in the pavement! It is a very versatile plant but you will find it at its best in short grass fields and meadows.
How to Prepare - Once your dandelions are harvested, keeping the flowers separate from the leaves, wash them thoroughly in cold water and place into a colander. Once drained the leaves can be patted dry with a cloth and stored in an air tight container. The younger leaves can be used in salads, older leaves and flowers are good to blanch and use in risottos, soups, pies.
Nutritional Value - Fresh dandelion greens, flower tops, and roots contain valuable nutrients that are known to have antioxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties. Fresh leaves are very low in calories - providing just 45 calories per 100 g. They are also good source of dietary fibre.