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Dandelions are Delicious!

Posted 5/6/2016 9:35pm by Erin Caudell.
It's certainly dandelion season. Those cheery yellow flowers are visible everywhere you go this time of year in lawns, fields, and even alongside the roadways. Dandelions contain vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. That is why they have long been used for their liver, kidney, and blood purifying and detoxifying properties. 
 
The common dandelion is more bitter than cultivated varieties.  Yes, you heard me right - people actually cultivate and grow dandelions on purpose.  That is what you'll find at The Local Grocer, a variety grown specifically for its size, tenderness and flavor.  It also explains why the dandelion greens look a bit different from the ones in your yard.  Both are safe and healthy to eat.  However, if you are going to go out in your yard and pick some dandelions for yourself, make sure that they haven't been sprayed with chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  Also, avoid picking plants that are near roadways.
 
Here is a  new take on a meatless lasagna that uses dandelion greens instead of spinach.
 
Dandelion Greens Lasagna  
 
1 pound dry lasagna noodles
2 bunches dandelion greens 
4 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper
1 jar tomato sauce (homemade or store purchased)
4 ounces grated Parmesan, about 2 cups  
 
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Lift noodles from water, rinse well in a bowl of cold water. Drain and lay noodles flat on a kitchen towel.
 
Using the same cooking water, blanch the dandelion greens for 1 minute, until just wilted. Rinse greens with cool water, squeeze dry and chop them roughly. Put 1 cup of chopped greens, the minced garlic and 1/2 cup olive oil in a food processor or blender and purée to make a pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a small bowl.
 
Mix the ricotta and lemon zest in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
 
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use 2 tablespoons butter to grease an 8-by-10-inch baking dish. Assemble the lasagna: Put a layer of cooked noodles on the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon a quarter of the tomato sauce over noodles, and then add a third of the ricotta. Complete layer with chopped greens, a drizzle of pesto and some grated cheese. Continue layering, finishing with a layer of pasta. Spread the last of the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan. (There should be 4 layers of pasta and 3 layers of filling.) Add remaining butter and bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes more, until nicely browned and bubbling. Let lasagna rest 10 minutes before serving.