Eating the Weeds - a Dandelion Fritter Recipe
(scroll down for recipe)
A few years ago, I took an worldview-expanding online class called Intuitive Plant Medicine. At the beginning of the eight week course, the instructor gave us homework to pick a “plant ally” - one plant that we would spend time with, get to know more deeply, intimately. I started out making friends with the dandelion.
I’m not sure why I am drawn to the dandelion - something about the bright yellow petals makes me happy, puppy dog kind of happy, surprise kind of happy. And with their deep taproot, they show up when soil is compacted and just when it needs some aeration. They remind me of one of my favorite children’s books, The Little Engine that Could. They are totally underestimated. “A weed!? I’ll show them…”
The whole plant of the dandelion - root, leaves, and flower - is edible and medicinal for humans. The root of the plant makes great tea. As long as you’re digging it from soil that hasn’t had any pesticides or fertilizers applied in the last three years, it’s safe to dig it up. The fall is the best time to harvest the roots. That’s when all the energy has moved back down after the spring frenzy of feeding the flowers and summer endurance of the leaves doing their photosynthesizing thing. Cleaned, dried, chopped, roasted… I enjoy it most mornings. Those that know, tell us it provides great support to detoxify the liver.
Then there’s the photosynthesis part. The leaves (greens) are full of vitamin A, folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C (in its raw form), and a source of calcium and potassium. Lots of people put them in a salad but I actually prefer to stir fry with onions and mushrooms. I do sometimes add them to my green smoothie. Best time to harvest leaves is early spring before the flower fully blooms. Later, they get bitter and woody.
Then there is the magnificent flower. Their cheerful energy dots the landscape of temperate regions all over the world. They contain high levels of polyphenols, antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and may act as chemopreventive agents (look it up). When I see them popping up I get so excited... to make fritters. People used to look at me funny, but now that we are all sheltering at home, eating from the backyard doesn’t seem so weird after all.
I make dandelion fritters both savory and sweet. Here is an incredibly simple and quick recipe. I still remember the first time I made them. David was a teenager. Halfway through the bowl - which he devoured - he exclaimed “I can't believe I am eating dandelions!”
Directions for Dandelion Fritters
(Identical instructions for sweet or savory. Only the selection of spices changes)
[Savory - think falafel. Use salt, pepper and cumin or za’atar, fried in olive oil, drizzled with tahini. For more of a meal, hummus on the side.]
[Sweet - think french toast. Use salt, vanilla, and any combination of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, (a little pepper too, if that sounds good to you), fried in coconut oil if you like that, or something neutral if you don’t. Drizzle with maple syrup or honey, and top with a dollop of whipped cream, sour cream, or creme fraise.]
Enjoy and don’t forget to say “Thank You!” to the dandelions!
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About the Author
Sarah Gabriel’s work/play/art/life has been an exploration of the “next adjacent” possibility in human health and regenerativity. Her current focus is on relating more actively with the other-than-human world.