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Chef wants dandelions back on the menu
Chef Claire Tuttey with a plate of dandelion inspired dishes
Claire Tuttey has been a judge for the heats of Junior Masterchef

A chef is campaigning for people to make dandelions a staple of their diet.

Claire Tuttey, chief lecturer at the Nottingham School of Cookery, described the herb as "good traditional English food".

She added: "They are in season, freely available and loaded with vitamins and anti-oxidants."

The chef has produced a series of dandelion-inspired recipes for the plant which is found in abundance in Britain after a warm winter.

"From a culinary point of view they add colour, flavour and texture - three important factors to consider when planning a menu," said Claire.

Dandelions became popular as a food source in Britain during the First and Second World Wars. But as rationing ceased and produce choice increased cooks turned to alternatives.

With the continued hangover from the recession Claire, whose cooking has been recommended in The Good Food Guide, is talking up the plant found on our doorstep.

"Everyone gets stuck in a rut cooking the same things. It's good to return to your childhood and cook good food."

The Latin name for the dandelion plant is 'Taraxacum', which means 'useful to man'. Claire said there is little waste with a dandelion.

Chickpeas with dandelion
9oz chickpeas; 2oz chorizo sliced thinly; 1 large onion; 100g dandelions shredded; extra virgin olive oil; salt and pepper; smoked paprika
Drain the chickpeas
Sweat the onion in the olive oil
Add the chickpeas and paprika and cook for a further 5 minutes
Stir in the chorizo and dandelion just before serving and allow to wilt then serve

"You can use the whole plant, you can use the roots, the stem, the leaf. You can actually make a batter, dip the flowers in and deep fry the flowers. This makes a great orderve or canape," she said.

Other dandelion dishes cooked up by Claire include dandelion soup, dandelion blossom pancakes, roasted dandelion root coffee ice cream, dandelion egg salad and chickpeas with dandelion and chorizzo.

When picking dandelions the chef suggests that you look for where they are growing in abundance to avoid picking a crop sprayed with weed killer.

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