Dandelion greens, the delightfully edible
weed. Photo courtesy Webstarts.com.
The scourge of the well-kept lawn—and one of the first signs of spring in the veggie universe—is the delicious, nutritious vegetable, dandelion greens.
The slightly peppery greens are much more nutritious than broccoli†.
A relative of the sunflower*, the crowns, leaves and stems are all recipe-worthy. The flowers are used to make dandelion wine.
Cultivated dandelion greens from the market are less bitter than the wild ones you can forage. A rule of thumb is to taste a leaf to determine the degree of bitterness—and thus, how much to include in your dish.
Alas, you can’t just dig them from your lawn, or other chemically-treated area. But should you be hiking through a mountain meadow or untreated area with a spade and a basket, there’s bounty awaiting you. (Wild plants that have gone to flower are much more bitter—pass them by.)
HOW TO SERVE DANDELION GREENS
Discard the tough lower portions of the stems. Depending on the recipe, cut the leaves crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Cook the greens in a pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until the ribs are tender (about 10 minutes). As with spinach, then rinse under cold water to stop cooking, drain in a colander and gently press out excess water.
Sauté the crowns and/or leaves with onion and garlic; season with a pinch of salt and fresh pepper or crushed pepper flakes.
Add to a salad (how about mixed greens, beets and almonds, or goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts?).
Substitute in any recipe that calls for bok choy or kale.
Make pesto (add some pumpkin seeds) for pasta and other recipes.
Serve wilted greens as a side.
Mix with collards, kale and/or spinach.
Dandelion greens have long been a homeopathic treatment for a broad spectrum of problems: acne, digestive problems, eczema, edema, gout, jaundice, swelling and inflammation, even viruses. It has potent laxative and diuretic properties, as attested by its French name, pissenlit, “wet the bed.”
Our word, dandelion, comes from the French dent-de-lion, “lion’s tooth.”
*From the botanical family Asteraceae and the tribe Cichorieae (yes, chicory), the genus and species are Taraxacum officinale. While Asteraceae is a large genus of flowering plants, two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide.
†One cup raw brocoli: 581 IU vitamin A, 89.4 mcg vitamin K, 41.4 mg calcium, .6 mg iron. One cup raw dandelion greens: 2712 IU vitamin A, 151 mcg vitamin K, 103 mg calcium, 1.7 mg iron.