Foraging for Dandelions is probably the best place to start for a variety of reasons:
- They are easy to identify and have no poisonous parts or poisonous lookalikes
- They are plentiful
- There are loads of different recipes you can use them in
Measurements are rough and don’t need to be followed precisely.
1 clove of garlic, crushed
a large pinch of salt, coarse sea salt is preferable, or Himalayan pink salt
1 cup dandelion heads, with the green bits pulled off as they are bitter
Â½ cup pine nuts
Â¼ – Â½ cup good quality olive oil
Â¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated.
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Using a blender or a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic with the coarse sea salt and add the dandelion heads to make a paste.
- Add the Â½ cup pine nuts (which can be lightly roasted before hand if you prefer) and blend into a paste again.
- Add Â¼ cup olive oil, blending all the time, then add additional olive oil a little at a time until you reach the right consistency: like a sauce, but not too runny.
- Add the Parmesan cheese, then salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour over fresh cooked pasta, and serve immediately.
The pesto will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but make sure to add about a half inch of olive oil to the top of the jar to stop air from getting in and make sure there aren’t bubbles in the jar.
Alternatively, pour leftover pesto into ice cube trays and freeze for months. It’ll keep the flavour fresh and the colour bright.
Excuse the poor quality mobile phone image – Dandelion Pesto is actually a beautiful, bright yellow.
There are quite a few dandelion jam recipes around, but as a never-made-jam-before recipe hunter, I found them more confusing than not.
In the end I bought a packet of premixed sugar and pectin to start off with (if your store sells them, they’ll be by the normal sugar), but you can use fruit, which will affect the flavour, or just separate pectin and follow the manufacturers instructions.
I always thought jam making was difficult and complicated, but it really isn’t.
2 cups Dandelion heads, the green bit removed
2 cups boiling water
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
3 cups sugar and pectin mix (or check your pectin packaging for equivalent measures)
- Place two cups of dandelion heads into a mixing bowl and add the zest of one lemon.
- Pour two cups of boiling water over.
- Leave overnight to infuse.
- The next day, pour the mixture through a sieve to separate all the leaves.
- I like to add a few back in, just to add some texture to the jam.
- Add the lemon juice and bring the mixture to the boil.
- Add the sugar and pectin and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then take a side plate, and using a spoon, drop a couple of drops onto the plate. If the drops are runny, boil for another few minutes and keep testing until the drops on the plate don’t run, but ‘set’.
- Skim of the top layer of ‘scum’ that develops, then pour the mixture into warm (so they don’t crack) jars.
- You need to make sure to remove all the air bubbles, which can be done with a wooden spoon or similar.
- Add the lids and screwtops and put aside in a cool place for 24 hours.
- The heat will cause the lid to ‘suck in’ so the jam will be air tight.
- Once opened, consume within one month.