Meatless Monday Recipe: Roasted Dandelion Root Ice Cream

Photo: Anja Jonsson, Flickr Creative Commons

We thought for our Meatless Monday recipe today, we’d give you a sweet dessert treat—made from a weed. This ice cream recipe, from Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine, stars the root of the bright-yellow dandelion, one of the most commonly recognized flowers in the world.

Don’t worry about not being able to find this ingredient: “Ubiquitous dandelions grow all over the world from sea level to timberline,” reads Pacific Feast. “The common dandelion most of us are familiar with thrives in lawns, in vacant lots, and along roadsides from central Alaska to California and east to the Atlantic.”

For tips about foraging for your food, check out “Walk on the Wild Side” from the Mar-Apr 2011 Audubon. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Roasted Dandelion Root Ice Cream

From Ron Zimmerman, The Herbfarm
Woodinville, Washington

You’d be surprised at just how velvety rich and aromatic roasted dandelion root ice cream tastes. Roasted dandelion root, like chicory, is an old-time coffee substitute. This decadent ice cream has overtones of coffee bean and peanut butter. Note: You need an ice cream machine to make this recipe.

Yield: 1 quart

1/2 cup finely ground, roasted dandelion root (see box below on how to roast dandelion root)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 egg yolks

1. Grind roasted dandelion roots into powder using a coffee mill and pass through a sifter.

2. Place cream, half and half, and sugar in a double boiler or a slow cooker. Bring mixture barely to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

3. Add roasted dandelion root powder. Maintain heat at a bare simmer, being sure not to boil, and the let the roots steep for 45 minutes. Strain mixture and discard root material.

4. Whisk egg yolks in another pot. Gradually add warm dandelion root cream. Heat gently and stir until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain one more time and chill.

5. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to directions.

How to roast dandelion roots:
In you can’t find fresh dandelion roots, many natural food stores sell dried, chopped dandelion root in bulk. It takes about 45 minutes to roast predried, chopped roots and 2 1/2 hours to clean, dry, chop, and roast fresh roots.
For fresh root, preheat oven to 250°F. Scrub fresh dandelion roots, towel-dry, then cut roots into 1/8-inch-thick pieces. Spread these dandelion discs on a cookie sheet no more than 1/4-inch deep. Place cookie sheet in oven with door cracked open so moisture can escape. Stir every 15 minutes with a spatula. The cream-colored roots shrink then turn golden brown when done. Be careful not to burn them.
A roasted dandelion root should crunch in your mouth and taste mildly of coffee or grain. Pulverize cool, roasted roots in a coffee grinder. Store in an airtight jar.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine.


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