Please Eat the Dandelions


Before Erma Bombeck, and her comedic descriptions of suburban life, there was Jean Kerr. Kerr’s most well-known work was her 1957 novel, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. In 1960 the novel was turned into a film starring Doris Day and David Niven. In 1965 it aired as a sitcom on NBC for a few seasons. Big family with big dog moves to a rambling, albeit ramshackle, suburban home; this show spoke to the 7-year-old me. I loved it. Now when I walk across my dandelion-overrun lawn, I think of that show and wonder if those Nash boys ever considered eating dandelions.

Before going any further in the discussion of foraging, preparing and eating dandelions, we must emphasize that you should never pick dandelions from an area treated with any chemicals; best to stick to your own untreated backyard.

The dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is a quintessential lawn and garden weed with a much-maligned reputation in suburbia. From the roots to the leaves to the blossoms, dandelions are completely edible, tasty and full of nutritious goodness. The tap roots from dandelions can be used in any dish that would normally call for root vegetables. Dandelion leaves can be eaten raw or cooked at any point during the growing season; smaller, younger leaves are less bitter. The bright yellow flowers are actually sweet and a little crunchy and can be eaten raw, breaded and fried or made into dandelion wine.

Bhavani Jaroff, of iEat Green, a motivational and educational organization in Old Westbury that promotes eating organic, local and seasonal foods, shared her recipe for dandelion nori rolls. With a recipe this good, eating the dandelions is imperative.

Bhavani Jaroff, left, and her Dandelion Nori Rolls.

Bhavani Jaroff, left, and her dandelion nori rolls.

Dandelion Nori Rolls
Recipe by Bhavani Jaroff

1 package of pre-toasted nori (seaweed sheets)
8 cups of cooked organic, short grain brown rice
2 onions, cut in half, and sliced into thin slivers
5 carrots, grated
8 cups chopped dandelion greens, washed
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp of fresh grated ginger
2 Tbsp organic tamari (gluten free)
2 Tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
Tahini and toasted sesame seeds, optional
Tofu strips (optional)
Pickled ginger as garnish

Sauté onion in olive oil, for 5 minutes. Add carrots, garlic and grated ginger. Sauté for 5 minutes longer. Add dandelion greens and sauté until wilted. Add tamari and mirin. Simmer till soft. Add dark sesame oil.
Spread 1 cup of cooked rice out evenly over 3/4 of the sheet of nori. Be sure to spread the rice all the way out to the edge. Add ½ cup of the sautéed dandelion green mixture in the center of the rice, and spread across rice in a 1 ½ “ wide strip. Add a thin strip of tofu across the middle of the dandelion greens, if using. Sprinkle sesame seed on top, if desired. Begin to roll from the front edge. Use water or tamari, or tahini to seal nori. Cut into eight even pieces.

To make dip
Combine equal parts of water and tamari in a small dipping bowl. Add a drop of mirin to sweeten. Serve with pickled ginger.