Rustling the Longhorn Weed: Vegetarian Dandelion Burgers
Whether at home or in the backcountry, there’s one weed everyone can recognize at 100 yards: the dandelion. Lawn and golf course caretakers across the country try to stem this little yellow monster that spreads like wildfire. However, with its deep taproot and remarkable regenerative properties, the dandelion will probably destined to outlast manicured lawns and fancy gardens. The weed’s tenacity and omnispresence can be turned to your advantage, however… as a tasty veggie burger!
About the Dandelion
Although it has long suffered “weed” status among those aspiring for the perfect lawn, the dandelion is far from a useless or noxious plant. It is chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; things greatly under-represented from many modern diets according to doctors and nutritionalists. Herbal enthusiasts have long praised, the dandelions high levels of potassium, strong diuretic quality, efficacy as a blood purifier and benefits to the liver. In many places, it is still used to treat digestive disorders, arthritis and eczema.
Dandelions are an excellent introductory plant for those wanting to get into urban and rural foraging. It’s easy to find, identify and prepare; building your confidence to move on to more challenging forages.
Harvesting Dandelion Greens
Just so we’re clear here, we are only interested in the green leaves of the plant for this recipe. Leave the flowers for sight-seers and the roots for regeneration (this time).
Spring is the best time to collect dandelion greens, though depending on your climate, the succulent leaves can still found well into Summer. Look for young plants that have not be “grounded” (trained to grow low and small by repeated mowing). Avoid plants near heavily trafficked roadsides and chemically treated lawns and gardens. Lightly trafficked roadsides, nature trails and open-fields are ideal places to look; just follow the distinctive yellow flower heads. For a special treat, get out early in Spring and look for the crown, which is the cluster of new buds that sits above the taproot. These are the tenderest, sweetest parts of the plant.
Clip or cut leaves near the base, taking care not to damage the stalk. A sharp pair of snips or small knife is best for this work. Store in zip lock bags with a damp paper towel away from direct sunlight to keep crisp until you get home.
Preparation and Storage
Once you have your bounty home, wash them in cold water and then soak them in cold water for an hour in a cool place. Drain the water and rinse once more. At this point, you can store them in your refrigerator just like any other salad.
The leaves can be eaten raw in salad or as sandwich toppings, or blanched, sautéed or steamed as a side, but I’m going to share a more substantial way of consuming them.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup wheat flour
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 1/4 cup powdered milk
- 1 fresh egg
- 1 cup fresh-picked dandelion blossoms
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh green onion
Thoroughly mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk your egg and add it into the mixture. Slowly add small amounts of warm water to the combination until it reaches the consistency of stiff batter. Kneed well and shape into patties. Fry on each side in a small amount of oil (I prefer olive), butter or margarine. Use just like a hamburger or veggie burger patty. Yield: 4 patties.
Carbohydrates: 16 g
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 54 mg
With some practice you can also make Dandelion “Meat” Balls for other dishes. In the future, we’ll look at Dandelion Coffee and Dandelion Wine!