Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dandelion Recipe - Dandelion Flower Pasta

One of the earliest flowers to bloom in the fickle spring weather would be our common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), often the scourge of picky lawn groomers. The blooms are appreciated by our pollinators, and the entire plant is edible by foragers. 

The unopened flower buds can be collected and pickled as a large caper-like condiment, or lightly boiled and eaten as a vegetable. 

The recognizable yellow flower heads are composed of many ray florets packed together that look like flower petals, backed by green bracts. Each flower grows on one unbranched, hollow stem that is sparsely covered by hairs and will exude a white, milky latex when cut, but there may be many flower stems growing from each plant.

 As they  go to seed, they transform into the white pom-pom seed head, with each seed (achene) connected to a silky tuft that helps the seeds disperse on the winds.

The leaves of the dandelion grow in a basal rosette, and each leaf is deeply toothed and can appear incredibly variable in shape. The midrib of the leaf is slightly juicy, and the leaves will also exude a milky latex when cut. We collect the leaves before the plant produces its flower stems or under shady conditions before they become too bitter, and either eat them raw or add them to any dish that calls for leafy greens. Dandelion greens contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C, and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese.


Dandelions are perennial, growing from a long, thin skinned taproot that can be up to 24" long and difficult to dig up in one piece. Robert likes to roast the taproots in the oven until very dark and dry, filling the house with aromas of coffee and dark chocolate, before grinding the roasted roots into a bitter coffee-substitute. 

In the early spring, we dig the taproots and collect them with the newly emerged greens still attached. We cut off the greens, but leave about an inch or less of the juicy midribs attached to the tops of the trimmed taproots. Once that section of the dandelion is soaked in some cold water, it "blooms" open, and with the light purple color on the lower midribs, they can look like an underwater creature, earning them the nickname "land squid". They then can be boiled or roasted as a wonderful vegetable to be used in recipes or as a side dish.

This recipe uses the yellow ray florets of the flower, removing most of the green bracts as possible by pinching and twisting the flower head. This process should be done soon after picking the flowers, or they will close up! We also use the sweet, yellow flowers in a honey-challah bread, in a wonderful jelly, while brewing herbal beers, and in peasant wines. We also prefer to use a scale and weigh the ingredients to make a consistent product.

 Dandelion Flower Pasta                 makes about 4 servings, one pound of pasta

US measurements:
10.6 oz. semolina flour
1/2 tsp. salt
0.7 oz dandelion flowers
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 c. water 

International measurements:
300 g semolina flour
3 g salt
20 g dandelion flowers
20 g oil
120 g water

1. In a bowl, combine the semolina flour with the salt.
2. In a high speed blender, combine the dandelion flowers, oil and water, and blend until smooth and no pieces remain. Pour into the semolina flour, and mix until a dough forms.
3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then knead it further for 5 minutes.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic or cover with a damp towel, and allow it to rest at least 30 minutes. It can be refrigerated for a day or so if tightly wrapped.
5. Cut the dough ball into quarters, and use a pasta roller to roll it out into flat sheets, starting at level 1 and rolling it down to level 5 thickness, re-folding and rolling it again if it is falling apart. The more you work it, the smoother it becomes. We like the fettuccine size cut for this firm dough. 
6. Dry the pasta and store, or cook in plenty of salted, boiling water, about 2-3 minutes, until al dente. Toss with butter or a sauce, and serve.


Unknown said...

Gorgeous! It's sunshine in pasta form!

Josie Donaldson said...

Wow! What stunning pasta. I have no idea dandelions could be so versatile.

I only recently came across your blog and I just want to say a big thanks!

Sandra said...

This is amazing! I learnt so much. Thank you!