Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Herb Club: Cooking with Dandelions

Several weeks ago I received a lovely invitation to join an herb club that's been meeting monthly for nearly 25 years on the first Friday morning of the month.  The club enjoys herb-related programs and activities, as well as field trips and teatimes.  The schedule for May's meeting would involve one of the members giving a talk she prepared called Cooking with Dandelions.  I was encouraged to bring along my lunch and a favorite teacup - dessert, tea and coffee would be provided.  Herbs, tea and dessert?  I knew this was right up my alley and quickly accepted the invitation.

And I wasn't disappointed!  There were nearly 20 ladies at the meeting, and I so enjoyed getting to know many of them, as well as hearing about their program plans for the upcoming months.  Part of the meeting involved brainstorming ideas of things that they want to sell at an autumn bazaar.  I felt a little like I was in a think tank - with that many creative women in one room, inspiration was just oozing everywhere!  After the meeting part of the morning concluded, one of the members proceeded with the planned talk on dandelions.

Mary had created a lovely table of the many samples of dandelion-infused foods she had prepared for us, as well as a centerpiece of a big vase stuffed full of bright yellow dandelions.  She began her talk with a little introduction about dandelions, a bit about the plant itself as well as its medicinal purposes.  Dandelions contain vitamins A & K, as well as potassium and magnesium.  Besides being used as a dye, dandelions have been used to cure warts as well as being a blood purifier, liver tonic, urine producer (acts like a water pill would), and aids digestion by increasing saliva.  It was mentioned that chewing nine dandelion blossoms a day is a help to your system and that the longer you chew them the sweeter they taste!

Because Mary's experience with dandelions has been mainly in the culinary field, the bulk of her talk was on cooking with them.  She mentioned that the blossoms can be added to fritters, cookies, pancakes and noodles.  You can make jelly with them, as well as tea, and the blossoms can be thrown in with a stir-fry.  When young, the leaves can be added to salads, soups, omelettes or quiches, and cooked as greens with garlic or hot bacon dressing.  We sampled a salad to which she had added young dandelion greens, cookies and iced tea made with dandelions, cooked greens with garlic, and pieces of bread with cream cheese and dandelion jelly.  We'll be receiving the recipes in a few weeks via our club newsletter, but in the meantime I am including the homemade salad dressing that was mixed with the salad (though it doesn't contain dandelions!).

Homemade Salad Dressing

2 parts olive oil
1 part apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil

I look forward to our June meeting (the last for the year as we take off for July and August).  It will be a field trip to a local garden faire at an herb farm for garden talks and tours, vendors, artists, music and tasty herbal food.  Can't wait!

(Photo by Eli Druck Photography)


Anonymous said...

The dressing sounds good; not sure what "one part" would mean. Is that like one part is, say, a cup and two parts is two cups or twice the amount of one part?


Julie said...

Yes, exactly, Sandy - if you wanted a smaller amount of dressing, then 1/2 C. to 1 C. and so on. Use twice as much olive oil as the apple cider vinegar.

Lori in Texas said...

I think that club sounds dandy -- and I ain't lion!!

Seriously, (too corny, I know), I would love to be in an herb group. I look forward to hearing your June meeting report!
Thank you so much for telling us about it. I would love to hear how to brew the tea... with honey it may be refreshing iced.

Julie said...

Lori, I forgot to mention that we did sample dandelion iced tea, and she had put honey in it (which you could taste immediately) as well as some stevia. It was tasty and refreshing. I hope to get recipes in the future and include them here. (And for the record, I liked your corny dandelion joke!)