If you’ve been wondering what to do with all the dandelions sprouting up in your yard, I have a savory solution for you. Use this abundant wild food resource in a way that actually tastes good: Enter deep fried dandelion flowers and bacon fat wintercress.
First, let’s make the wintercress, or creasy greens, as they’re often called in the south. Collect a grocery bag of wintercress from a field or wild place that has not been sprayed with anything harmful. Make sure you positively identify the cress (Barbarea vulgaris) or similar wild mustards (Brassica rapa), which can be used, too. The plants should have four-petaled yellow flowers, the leaves should have a “mustardy” smell when bruised, and the plants should be 2 to 3 feet tall.
Pick through and discard any tough stems, and chop up the tender stems, leaves, and flowers. Next, fry one package of good-quality bacon in a skillet. Don’t do this too fast or hot, as you are really just trying to render out the fat. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Add the greens to the hot bacon fat and saute them until tender. Crumble your bacon over the top and keep warm until serving.
As for the dandelions, your lawns and fields are probably peppered with the year’s major bloom of yellow flowers now, or will be soon. These should be gathered from a clean space as well, and chemical free lawns always seem to have plenty of dandelions to spare. Collect a large bowl full of the flowers, or more if you are feeding a crowd. You can use a simple corn muffin boxed mix and water, or create your own batter recipe, but make the batter runny–similar in thickness to pancake batter. Heat a pot of cooking oil (any kind of pot or oil) or warm up a deep fryer. When the oil is hot, drop a handful of dandelion flowers into the batter and coat them. With a fork or your fingers, pick out 8 to 10 of the flowers and drop them into the hot oil. Fry them for a few moments until golden brown, and use a fryer scoop or slotted spoon to remove them onto paper towels to drain. Sprinkle a little salt on each batch of fried flowers as you remove them from the oil, and serve with the bacon-crumbled greens.
Got a favorite wild edibles recipe? Let us hear it in the comments.