Roots, crowns (parts between roots and ground surface), and tops, from young leaves to flower buds and full blooms, can be eaten. They are an excellent source of vitamins B, C, and A. The plant is especially high in calcium, and also contains potassium, phosphorous and sodium. Here is a summary of ways dandelions can be eaten:
Roots: Scrape, slice, and boil roots in salted water until tender, then eat as a vegetable. Being part of the chicory family, the roots may also be dried in the oven, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. I would recommend mixing it half and half with real coffee for a better taste.
Crowns: Boil with leaves or prepare alone as a vegetable.
Flowers: Make wine or put in pancakes, fritters, or pies.
Leaves and buds: Prepare as greens. To lessen bitterness in older leaves, drain well after they reach a boil, cover with fresh water, and boil again.
Every spring, my mother gathered young dandelion greens and made this dish for a spring tonic.
MOTHER’S DANDELION RECIPE
3 cups young dandelion leaves
2 tablespoons butter
3 slices bacon, cut in small pieces
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vinegar (more to taste)
1 hard-cooked egg
Wash dandelion leaves well; let drip, but do not dry. Crisp the bacon pieces. Melt butter; add dandelion leaves and bacon. Cook, turning often, until leaves are wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beat egg and vinegar together and add to cooked greens. Slice hard-boiled egg over top.
If you still have an abundance of blossoms available, try baking this dandelion blossom pie.
DANDELION BLOSSOM PIE
Pick enough dandelion blossoms to fill a 3-quart saucepan 3/4 full. Wash blossoms thoroughly and cover with water. Cook 45 to 60 minutes, until blossoms are tender and water is permeated with dandelion flavor. Separate blossoms from liquid.
Measure the following:
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 cups (packed) cooked dandelion blossoms
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Cook liquid, sugar, and tapioca until tapioca is transparent. Fold in the blossoms. Add nutmeg. Place in an 8-inch graham cracker crust or baked pie shell. Garnish with whipped topping and serve.