When I was a child, the only thing I knew to do with dandelions was blow on the little puffballs and watch the seeds float off into the wind. As an adult, I heard rumors that some people ate dandelion greens, but I didn’t know anyone who did.
A few years ago I went to lunch with one of my editors who lives in Sugarcreek. The “special” for the day—handwritten on a sign outside the restaurant–was Dandelion Gravy and that’s what my editor ordered.
“You’ve GOT to be kidding,” I said. “What IS that stuff!”
“It’s a seasonal Amish dish around here,” she said. “They only serve it for a couple weeks in the spring when the dandelion leaves are tender. People either really love it or really hate it.”
I decided to give this weird-sounding dish a whirl. For me, it turned out to be love at first bite. The combination of spring greens in a mild sweet and sour bacon gravy was delicious. Since then, after a long winter, I find myself craving it and I begin eying dandelions voraciously as soon as their little yellow heads begin to appear.
Our backwoods yard is carpeted with young dandelions right now, so I fixed a double batch of dandelion gravy last night. My husband inhaled two heaping platefuls and said it was the most delicious thing I’d fixed since Christmas. I agreed and savored every mouthful. My son said that it was okay, but not his favorite.
When I researched the nutrition value of dandelions, I was surprised to learn that they are not native to our country. Europeans brought the seeds with them and cultivated them in their gardens, much like we grow lettuce. Their seeds quickly began to spread across America. The leaves are packed with all sorts of good things.
Here’s the recipe I used if you want to try it.
1) Gather 4 tightly packed cups of dandelion leaves early in the spring when the leaves are tender. (Make sure the yard or property you gather them from hasn’t been sprayed with any sort of weed killer. It’s also best not to gather plants from road sides.) Wash, shake dry, and chop into bite size pieces.
2) Boil 2 eggs
3) Make enough mashed potatoes for about 4 people (unless you are doubling the recipe.)
4) Fry about 4 strips of bacon. Drain. Reserve grease.
5) Chop 1 onion—toss into skillet of hot grease.
6) Stir in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour (We’re gluten free so I used rice flour)
7) Stir in 2 tablespoons water until thick
8) Stir in 1 cup of milk. (Or more. Whatever it takes to make a gravy-like consistency.)
9) Salt and Pepper to taste.
So far, you’ve just made mashed potatoes with bacon gravy. Now here’s where things get interesting.
10) Add 1 tablespoon of sugar
11) Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
12) Stir in all the young dandelion greens and cook until they wilt
13) Chop up the two eggs and add to mixture.
14) Serve by ladling the gravy over the mashed potatoes and sprinkling bits of bacon on top.
You have just made authentic Amish country dandelion gravy
Here’s a picture of what we fixed last night. No, it isn’t pretty. But it IS delicious. Unless you are one of those people who really hate it. If you are, don’t blame me. Just eat the mashed potatoes and bacon and be happy. At least you got some exercise gathering dandelion greens.