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.
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.”
†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.
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