We are finally in the thick of real spring. There are no more frost warnings, no more chilly nights. I’ve closed the screen curtains on the porch as the babies sport the first pink welts of the season. Every rain washes the world clean of chalky yellow pollen and gives us a few days respite. I’m no longer caught off guard by shade where there was none a few days ago; the trees have fully leafed out, but are still fresh, super bright green.
In the garden, this is the time of year I’ve been holding my breath for as I weed and mulch, water, harden off, and plant. There is a week every year, around the start of April, when all of a sudden things that were just inching along finally get moving. I harvest lettuce, spinach, herbs, and strawberries every day and try to keep up with the slugs. The peas are taller if you look away for a minute. The carrots finally look like more than sprouts. You can almost see things growing if you stand still long enough.
It is salad season, our favorite time of year perhaps because it is so short lived. Just a few happy weeks of enormous bowls of garden greens before the lettuce bolts. But I’m not complaining. It wouldn’t be special if it lasted forever, and when the lettuce is gone it’s because it is time to harvest peas and potatoes, with cucumbers, basil, and tomatoes not far off.
This recipe was made for this kind of moment. You can’t make it except when the dandelions are blooming.
It’s also quite possibly the most satisfying baked good I’ve made in years because I know nothing about shortbread, did the whole thing with a toddler underfoot, and it was still fast, simple, and came out yummy the first time around.
I modified this recipe to use the ingredients I had on hand and speed things up, as well as be slightly less sweet (the original recipe is sweeter than traditional shortbread). This version is not GF but easily could be, as you’ll see. The honey, imo, is what makes this absolutely rock. Something about how it combines with the butter. My kitchen has never smelled so good.
What You Need
- fresh Rosemary (2 T)
- Dandelion blossoms (1/4 cup)
- flour (2 cups)
- salt (1/4 tsp or “a pinch”)
- fresh ground pepper (obviously optional, 1/4 tsp)
- sugar (1/3 cup)
- honey (1/3 cup)
- butter (2 sticks, one cup)
- a flat cooking surface
- a mixer, unless you like creaming butter and sugar by hand
What You Do
Go outside with your toddler and pick a bunch of dandelions (avoid the roadside and people’s RoundUp-ed yards). Two big handfuls should do it. This was the most fun. He kept bringing the mature seed heads and blowing them throughout the garden. Super helpful. I just remind myself every flower I pick is a few hundred fewer seeds for him to spread.
Use a pair of scissors to snip the bloom from the stem. It doesn’t actually matter if some of the sepal goes in. I use kitchen scissors to cut up the fresh rosemary too. Chop it all up with the scissors. I do it in a tall ramekin…it’s how most “fine chopping” happens around here. Looks like leafy green vegecide.
Preheat the oven to 325 and prepare a baking surface. I used lard on a cast iron skillet, but it’s not like this thing moves around so use whatever.
Blend the butter, sugar, and honey on low/med-low until creamy. I used sucanat and honey that had crystalized into a big lump because that’s what I had. If you want it more savory still, drop down to 1/4 cup of each. I let it mix for a good long time as I was worried about my wonky ingredients. Didn’t seem to matter. I also used salted butter because I love salt and that’s what I had. Heathen, I know.
Add in the chopped plant matter. I put in an extra pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Add the flour slowly. I used sprouted white wheat flour. The original recipe called for rice flour. Use what you’ve got, didn’t seem to matter in the slightest. Well, I can’t vouch for coconut flour. That might make it mess-upable.
As soon as the dough is smooth, scrape it out onto your baking surface and shape it into a circle about 1/3 inch thick. Slice it with a sharp knife however you want the finished shape to be. A different recipe I read said to score it with a fork so I did.
Bake. The original recipe said 20 minutes or until just golden. But I didn’t use rice flour, dropped the cheese entirely, did not chill the dough or cut it into cute little circles. Mine cooked for approximately 30 minutes plus some time on the hot cast iron after and came out perfect. I think the sucanat takes longer than white sugar to do nice things and the sprouted whole wheat flour may also have made it take longer. It was fine, only an hour after the toddler should have started nap. He made a game of jumping off his rocker onto the floor. As an excellent mother, I suggested it would be safe as long as he jumped onto the rug instead of the concrete, then went back to baking.
I let it cool for maybe 10 min in the skillet, but didn’t want the bottom getting soggy so as soon as it seemed firm I dragged it carefully onto the drying rack. Voilà!