We’ve tried a lot of things with dandelions. The leaves are great. Hopefully everybody knows that by now. I’ve made syrups with the flowers, but truthfully they don’t have much flavour and are only good for their sunny colour. The roots are delicious roasted and useful in bitter infusions, but they are such a bitch to harvest I rarely bother. The flower buds can be pickled, but while they look a good deal like capers they don’t actually have much flavour of their own, and certainly don’t have the distinct mustard-like pop of their Mediterranean look-alikes.
Dandelion crowns might be the tastiest part of the plant.
The crown is where the root transitions to the stalks. It is only slightly easier to harvest than the root, and probably more difficult to clean, but it delivers a serious flavour payoff.
Pan-roasted, dandelion crowns remind me of rutabaga: soft, savoury, and faintly bitter.
The dish below was entirely conceived and executed by my partner Lisa. She sautéed the crowns, then added a bit of water to the pan and covered. Once the crowns were tender she added dandelion greens and cooked until they were wilted but still vibrant green. She finished the dish with balsamic vinegar.