Do me a favor. Go outside and find the dandelion patch nearest you.
If I know anything about dandelions, and I DO, it won’t be far.
Now close your eyes and recall the healthy relationship you USED to have with dandelions, before someone told you they were bad and ugly.
Remember blowing dandelion puffballs with all your might, and watching the fluff swirl into the wind and out of sight? Or gathering a bouquet and then breaking into a run while you held them as high above your head as you could reach? Then you reached down for more, your enthusiasm not diminished one iota by having performed the very same ritual just seconds before. Up and down. Run. Free.
They were your best friend.
Now open your eyes. Still not impressed by your personal field of dandies? Then let me give you some decidedly grown-up information.
Half a cup of dandelion leaves contains:
*more calcium than a glass of milk,
*more iron than spinach (to keep you strong to the “finich”),
*inulin fiber (to, er, keep the train leaving the station as regularly scheduled), and
*pectin, which is credited with lowering cholesterol (so you can eat more butter).
And you frugalista farmgirls have likely not overlooked this little fact: dandelions are FREE, which is why they were so popular during the Great Depression. Don’t have enough of your own? Just ask your neighbors if you can pick ’em off their lawn. (Fancy that, they’re suddenly overwhelmed with neighborly generosity!) Just make sure that borrowed dandies haven’t been sprayed with weed killer.
Hold on, you’re not done yet. Once you’ve used up the top, dig up the taproot. Now treat it like a carrot or turnip and whip up a batch of coffee substitute:
Roasted Dandelion Root “Coffee”
When brewed properly, dandelion root coffee closely resembles the rich flavor of traditional coffee, and it contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals.
One 5-gallon bucket of dandelion roots (to yield about 10 gallons of coffee).
To wash the roots, fill the bucket with water and agitate the roots with your hands. Pour off the muddy water and repeat this process a few times till the water runs clear and you have a pile of luscious golden roots. Don’t worry if there’s still some dirt left on them—you’ll wash them again after chopping. With a sturdy knife, cut the roots into chunks. Put these into a large bowl (or sink), fill with water, then rub the roots and rinse till clean. Drain till fairly dry or pat with a towel.
But do me one teensy little favor first.
Pick a puffball.
Close your eyes.
Make a wish. Keep your eyes closed.
Blow. Blow out all your adult stuff, your day’s angst, your unfulfilled dreams, your …
Now open your eyes and give the world a big SMILE.
Prosciutto, Ricotta, and Dandelion Greens Pizza
- 3 cups Budget Mix
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T honey
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 6 slices prosciutto, halved
- 1 bunch dandelion greens, chopped (if you don’t have any at the moment—just close your eyes and count to 3, they WILL appear—actually, most grocery stores now carry dandelion greens in their produce section)
- 2 T capers
- Yield: one 12-inch pizza
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Place Budget Mix in a large bowl and make a depression in the center of the mix to receive the liquid.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, and water.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the Budget Mix mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until blended. (Add more flour or water by the tablespoonful to make the dough tacky but not sticky.)
- Form the dough into a large ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, rolling and stretching it to the size of your pan. Transfer the dough onto a lightly oiled baking pan and pat it out to fill the pan. Prick the crust multiple times with a fork to prevent bubbling.
- Saute the dandelion greens in a bit of butter or oil until wilted and tender. If you like, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder for cutting any bitterness the greens may have.
- Mix together ricotta, pesto, and wilted greens. Spread over crust.
- Layer the onion, prosciutto, and capers over the surface.
- Bake for 17 minutes.