Every spring dandelions pop up everywhere, stay for their season and come back again the next year. Many people see these yellow-flowered plants as bothersome pests, but others see them as a source of food. You can eat the entire plant, from the blooms to the taproot. Generations ago, it was nothing out of the ordinary for a family to sit down at the kitchen table with a mess of dandelion greens gathered earlier that day. Some people still gather these wild edible plants but sadly, it's not as common as it once was; it's easier to just go to the grocery store and buy what you want or need. Eating dandelions are not for everyone as the taste is somewhat bitter, although not in the bad way. Just remember to only pick these delicious weeds in pesticide free areas.
Dandelion leaves are also called dandelion greens. Gather a bunch of the leaves and boil them in a pot just like you do other greens, such as mustard or turnip greens. For the best taste, gather the leaves from young plants, while the flower is still a bud; the older plants tend to have more of a bitter taste. This isn't to say you can't eat the older leaves, especially if you don't mind stronger tasting greens. Boiling the pot of greens for about five minutes then dumping and repeating the process once more will help the leaves to have a milder flavor. You will lose some but not all the nutrients by doing this. Remove the flower heads and throw the stems in with the leaves, too.
Another way to prepare dandelion leaves is to sauté or steam them. Or try eating them raw tossed into a salad with other leafy greens. Some even dry the leaves out and use them for tea.
While still a bud or right after the flower blooms is the best time to harvest this part of the dandelion. You can't eat the flower part once it has gone to seed but you sure can have fun blowing the fluff all over the place. Dip the bloom in a pancake batter and deep fry some fritter or sprinkle the petals over a salad as a pretty and tasty garnish. Credit: bibertaThe petals can also be cooked into cookies, muffins and other baked goods.
The dandelion root is a taproot, which means the dandelion has one thick root that grows down with smaller and thinner roots sprouting horizontally out of it. Once cleaned and peeled you have multiple options on how to prepare this tuber. Dry it out and grind it into powder for tea or roast in the oven for coffee. You can also cut or slice the root and then boil, sauté or fry it; kind of like potatoes.