The culinary power of dandelions
As the weather continues to warm, fields and lawns will soon be scattered with a sea of familiar yellow speckles: dandelions. While many regard the flowering plant as a pesky weed, dandelions actually serve a purpose — as food — for both pollinators and people.
Come spring, dandelions provide bees and other pollinators with their first source of nourishment following the frigid winter months. By participating in programs like No Mow May and allowing dandelions to grow freely, individuals can support nature and help local pollinators thrive.
As a cap off to their No Mow May efforts, the village of Egg Harbor will celebrate these milky-sapped blooms with the Forage & Feast: Dandelion Dinner with proceeds benefiting the villages’ Green Tier Initiatives. The workshop will highlight the unique benefits of dandelions and provide a hands-on experience for attendees.
A limited number of guests will be invited to participate in the foraging event on June 1, led by dedicated herbalist David LaLuzerne.
“One of my earliest memories as a child was going out in the field next to my grandpa’s house in Green Bay and helping him harvest dandelion blossoms to make dandelion wine,” LaLuzerne said, “it’s like capturing sunshine in a bottle.”
In addition to fond childhood memories the plant may spark, there is also some interesting lore behind it.
“The dandelion is associated with growth and transformation,” LaLuzerne said. “A few dandelion flowers soon turn into hundreds of seeds waiting to travel around the neighborhood. There’s also a connection to moving on – if you’ve got a bad habit you want to get rid of, associate it with a dandelion puff, and then blow it out away from you.”
While dandelion lore may or may not be true, one fact is the heap of vitamins and minerals dandelions contain, including vitamin A, C, E and K and calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.
“Dandelions are a nutritional powerhouse,” LaLuzerne said.
Dandelion blossoms also contain Lutein, an antioxidant that can support eye health. Its roots can aid and influence digestion and liver health. They are also beneficial to the heart and circulatory system.
Because of their lengthy list of nutritional perks, dandelions are also used in a variety of different recipes. Most commonly, it is used to make infused honeys, vinegars and jams, but they can also be incorporated into a full meal, as will be showcased at the dinner event on June 2, the day following the foraging hike.
At the dinner, hosted at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor, diners will enjoy a five-course meal of earthy dishes, including dandelion pesto on cracker with smoked fish served with dandelion wine, ramp and potato soup, dandelion quiche with bacon, stir-fried dandelion greens and fresh thyme with cherry balsamic vinegar, dandelion blossom cake and roasted dandelion root tea.
LaLuzerne believes guests have a lot to gain from the class — and the dinner — including an appreciation for wild herbs and an understanding of their benefits.
“If disease is an imbalance in our system, wild foods such as dandelion can help to restore that balance,” he said. “Wild food like dandelion have adapted to all kinds of climate and environments around the world. We can use these herbs to help us to adapt to our changing environment and to maintain our own homeostasis.”
Along with attending the workshop and participating in No Mow May, LaLuzerne offers this piece of advice when it comes to managing dandelions.
“Eat ’em, don’t weed ’em!” he said. “This event will open your eyes about the bounty of nature.”
Attend the Workshop
Space is limited, secure your spot early!
Foraging & Dandelion Dinner Ticket: $100
Includes two-day workshop for one and dandelion dinner for two (limited to 6)
June 1, 10 am-4pm: Meet David for dandelion picking at secret location, followed by preparation and class at the Kress Pavilion
June 2: Noon-4pm: Final dinner preparation and education wrap up
June 2: 6-8 pm: Dinner in the Kress Pavilion Great Hall
Dandelion Dinner Only Ticket: $40
Includes Dandelion Dinner in the Kress Pavilion Great Hall (limited to 20)
June 2, 6-8 pm
To purchase tickets, please visit kresspavilion.org/dandelion or call or call Jess at 920.868.3334 ext. 3.