|Butterflies and Bees like Dandelions too|
It's definitely dandelion season out there at the moment - everywhere you go at this time of year there's masses of yellow flowers dancing in the wind, like tiny reflections of the sun. Only a few weeks back they were all hiding away, difficult to spot but now they're forced to give away their location with their bright yellow beacons! I lick my lips and fetch my scissors....
Whereas most gardeners around these parts detest dandelions, I'm fond of them - mainly because I love eating them. I was lucky enough to go to Greece a few springs ago and watched how much the locals relished eating them there - you even find dandelions on the market stalls, sold simply as 'horta', and in such quantity that I can only imagine the people are actually cultivating them!
The thing is, like with most vegetables, you just need to know how to prepare them. If you've ever tried eating a raw dandelion leaf you'll probably never want to get one anywhere near your mouth again. But then that would be the same if you'd tried eating raw broccoli - you're missing a treat once they're cooked!
So to get all that bitterness out, the dandelions need to be boiled for 10-15 minutes. The longer you boil, and the more water you use, the less bitter they'll become. (Some Greeks don't cover the pan, claiming that covering will make the leaves yellow and presumably less tasty? Sounds superstitious but I follow their advice!)
Drain the water, catching some of it in a bowl. Put your dandelions in a dish to serve and add plenty of olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper to give it that classic Greek twist! I like to add a little of the bitter cooking water to the mix now that I've acquired the taste.This water, by the way, is said to be an excellent remedy for a sore stomach, if you can get it down!
I'm not promising that everyone will love it on their first try, but do persevere, it's a taste well worth learning to like. My favourite bit is mopping up the juice with some bread at the end, yum!