Dandelions. Those sunny yellow pests of the garden. Bright yellow dandelion petal heads that were fun to flick at my sisters when I was a child, resulting in the bitter dandelion stem milk getting on my hands and eventually, regrettably, on my tongue.
Dandelions are the scourge of the pristine gardener. However, I’m more of a wild gardener (read: I try, but I forget to water anything and I have no idea what I’m doing, yet).
I’ve recently moved into a house with enough garden to scare me. The gardens were once very much loved, but have been left for many years to run wild, feral. I’ve been in this house for a few months and from beneath the overgrowth I’ve seen pretty stone-lined patches turn from snowdrops to hyacinths to bluebells to some attractive pink and purple flowers that are nameless to me. There is a narrow path that leads nowhere in particular, which is lined with brambles that have been left to grow spindly and sinister.
Wild roses grow everywhere, thrusting their thorny claws up from the lawn. I rip them out before preschooler feet find them first and thus far the thorny bloodletting has been minimal. I have also discovered that it is not possible to don thick gloves and pull up wild roses without singing Nick Cave to oneself (in my case with no tone, pitch or discernible tune).
I’ve tamed the wild garden somewhat but allowed some of the dandelions to remain for now. I’ll dig them up properly soon, perhaps to attempt to turn the ground, dried roots into coffee – should time and inclination converge. I began to rid the garden of dandelions some weeks ago, but I went out early one evening and their little heads were closed and bowed with begging submission. I realised that I was about to bin perfectly edible food. So I waited until they were open and joyful then baked them into vegan cookies.
Dandelions are around in April and May. Perhaps yours are starting to turn to fluffy seed heads, perhaps your lawn is still bright with jolly yellow petals. But there isn’t much time. Make haste and pick them while they last; forage for free food in your own backyard. Eat the petals, eat the greens. The greens are deliciously bitter and full of iron while the petals have a milder flavour. Just be careful where you pick them. Some councils spray them with nasties and you also don’t want any that have grown by a busy, polluted road. I got mine from my own garden. Nasty-free.
Pick the dandelions on a sunny morning so they are open and easier to pull the petals from. Hold the green leaves and pull off the yellow petals or snip them with scissors. The mild floral dandelion flavour goes well with the tart lemon in these vegan oaty cookies. I was juicing kale and added it to my sweet lemon drizzle to make these cookies even more special. You can’t taste the kale, but it makes a beautiful green colour and the lemon drizzle is a bit less sharp than usual because the kale juice means less is needed for the right consistency. Cookies with leafy greens and sunny petals.
- ¼ cup dandelion petals, washed
- 150ml (2/3 cup) vegetable oil
- 75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 80g (1 cup) porridge oats (rolled oats)
- 115g (1 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ tablespoon freshly juiced kale
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 65g (½ cup) powdered icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 220C / 425F. Line baking sheets with baking paper.
- Whisk the oil, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and zest together until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, salt and dandelion petals.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.
- Drip teaspoons of the mixture onto the lined baking sheets. Gently press down with the back of a fork. Cook 7-10 minutes or until beginning to turn golden.
- Cool on the sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Mix all ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cookies.
I’m an ambassador for Zero Waste Week, and it has made me extra considerate of waste, reusing and also foraging to make use of freely available foods that don’t require packaging, processing or transport. In the past I’ve made a Roast Dinner Waste Cake using vegetable peelings, Stinging Nettle and Lemon Cake and I’ve been picking wild garlic this year. I hope you’ll join me in Zero Waste Week this year!
If you’d like to explore baking with vegetables with me, I’ll be teaching a class at the renowned Demuth’s Cookery School next month and I’d love you to come!
Looking for more recipes using dandelions and dandelion petals?
I’ve been meaning to try dandelion honey for ages! I’ve made corn cob honey (it’s rather amazing), but I need to try one of these recipes:
Dandelions Petal Honey by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
Dandelion Honey by Tin and Thyme
I’ve got to try Dandelion Wine!
You can use the greens of dandelions, too. Try Dandelion Greens and Citrus Salad.