Winning recipes prove dandelions can be delicious

Saimi Bergmann

A 29-year-old chef from Columbus, Ohio, claimed the top prize at a recent Dandelion Cook-Off that drew competitors from around the Midwest.

Phillip Gulis of M. Restaurant created a holiday-worthy rolled pork tenderloin with a dandelion and dried cherry filling and a blackberry wine reduction sauce. Pretty slices were served atop homemade dandelion fettucini.

Second place went to Sally Sibthorpe of Shelby Township, Mich., for a homey dish that even a beginning cook could make. Her dandelion and white cheddar strata was elevated by the inspired addition of caraway seeds.

Nancy Radke of Gahanna, Ohio, took third place with a Mediterranean cheesecake, a lovely substitute for a boring cheese ball. A pungent combination of goat cheese, cream cheese and feta was tempered by chopped mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and, of course, dandelion greens.  

The 17th annual cook-off was part of the two-day May Fest at Breitenbach Wine Cellars. Despite the occasional sprinkling of rain, the grounds of the winery were packed, as visitors and tour groups elbowed their way to booths offering dandelion wine, dandelion gravy over mashed potatoes, dandelion sausage and other foods and crafts.

DANDELION-STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH DANDELION FETTUCCINI, BABY CARROTS AND BLACKBERRY REDUCTION

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup dried cherries

2 tablespoon pine nuts

2 tablespoon butter

4 bunches dandelion greens, blanched, stems removed and chopped

1/2 cup white wine

1 egg

1 cup flour

3 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

3 cups blackberry wine

Fresh blackberries

1 to 2 bunches baby carrots, peeled, washed and blanched

Place tenderloin in a shallow dish and pour vinegar and oil on top. Allow to marinade overnight.

In a skillet, gently sauté dried cherries and pine nuts in 1 tablespoon butter. Add 1/2 cup chopped dandelion greens. Continue to gently sauté, occasionally splashing with white wine.

Cut a small slit in both sides of tenderloin with paring knife. Push stuffing into slits filling evenly through the meat.

Sear the tenderloin until a golden brown on all sides. Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Deglaze pan with blackberry wine. Reduce and finish with 1 tablespoon butter and fresh blackberries.

To make pasta, place 1/2 cup dandelion greens in blender and purée. Slowly add about 1/4 cup olive oil to create a paste. Add 1 egg and blend until a smooth puree is formed.

Take 1 cup of flour and make a mound with a well in the center. Add dandelion paste, 3 egg yolks, salt and pepper. Using a fork, slowly work flour in wet ingredients. Knead with hands with some vigor until a soft, somewhat pliable ball forms that is not sticky. Allow to rest for no less than 30 minutes.

With a pasta roller, make thin sheets then run through a fettuccini attachment. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and gently toss with olive oil.

Heat carrots in 1 tablespoon butter. Season to taste.

Combine all finished products on a plate and serve.

DANDELION AND WHITE CHEDDAR STRATA

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large bunches dandelion greens, stems removed and chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons caraway seeds

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, slivered

12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions

2 cups sharp white cheddar, shredded

6 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons granulated chicken bouillon

6 cups half and half

3 teaspoons nutmeg

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add dandelions, onions, garlic, caraway and sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté until dandelions are wilted and onion is soft, about 20 minutes.

While dandelions are cooking, melt butter in large saucepan. Add flour and cook until bubbly, about 3 minutes. Whisk in chicken bouillon, half and half and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is creamy and thickened.

To assemble, place about 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 11-inch-by-7-inch pan. Arrange three of the noodles on top of the sauce and sprinkle with a quarter of the cheddar. Add a third of the dandelion mixture and top with another layer of sauce. Repeat twice with layers of noodles, cheddar, dandelions and sauce. Finish with the last three noodles, sauce and cheese. Sprinkle top lightly with nutmeg and caraway seeds if desired.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes or until top is golden and sauce is bubbly. Let rest 15 minutes before serving. Makes about 9 servings.

SAVORY MEDITERRANEAN CHEESECAKE WITH DANDELION GREENS

Crust:

1 3/4 cup seasoned crackers, crushed

2 tablespoons pine nuts, finely chopped

1/3 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake filling:

1 tablespoon oil

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup mushrooms, diced

2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, minced

1/2 cup dandelion greens, finely chopped

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 4-ounce package goat cheese, softened

1 tablespoon flour

3 eggs

1/4 cup black olives, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan. In a medium bowl, combine crackers and pine nuts with butter, stir to mix well. Press evenly into bottom of pan and slightly up sides. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool.

Cheesecake filling:

Heat large skillet over medium high heat with oil. Add onion and cook until slightly tender. Add mushrooms and tomatoes, continue to cook 4 to 8 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked thoroughly and tomatoes are tender. Toss in dandelion greens, stir to combine and remove from heat. Cool slightly before going to next step.

In a large bowl, combine cream and goat cheeses and beat until smooth. Add flour and eggs, stir until well blended. Add olives, garlic and spices, mix well. Stir in skillet mixture and feta cheese, stir to combine. Pour mixture into springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until center is just set. Cool then refrigerate until chilled.

Garnish with additional chopped dandelion greens, olives and feta cheese before serving if desired. To serve cut into thin wedges. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

The Repository