It’s hard to believe there was a time in my life when I thought of dandelion greens as weeds! Clearly, I had never made a meal of them, nor had I read about or studied the many health benefits these common backyard plants confer.
Growing up in the South, I learned to love just about any greens that were put on my plate, but I have to admit, I never saw a dandelion sitting there. As I got older and ventured into both the culinary and health fields, I learned to enjoy them in more ways than one. Did you know that the flower, leaves and root of the dandelion are all edible? Traditional people have used the whole plant for healing support for eons. A quick peruse around our stores will turn up dandelion root tea, dandelion tincture, dandelion capsules and tablets, and of course, dandelion greens. Renowned for supporting healthy liver function, you can find this wonderful plant in many combination herbal formulas as well.
When it comes to good health and good taste, dandelion greens are a perfect choice providing calcium, iron, fiber, Vitamins A, E and K, and powerful antioxidants including beta Carotene and lutein.
If you have never tasted dandelion leaves, you are in for a nice surprise but remember: Like many leafy greens, they can be a little bitter, but when properly prepared, you’ll be glad you tried them! (Try steaming them before sautéing for less of a bite.) Here are some delicious ways to start:
- Purchase a blend of baby greens that contain dandelion; toss with your favorite dressing and enjoy.
- Use it in salads in place of some of the other leafy greens. Try our delicious recipe for Butternut Squash and Kale Salad but be sure to use dandelion in place of some or all of the kale.
- Sauté alone or with onions and garlic in olive oil or sesame oil; garnish with sesame seeds.
- Chop the leaves and add to soups, stews, or a crockpot dish. Try this wonderful Seafood Soup with Kale and Potatoes, but use dandelion in place of the kale.
- Chop the leaves and add to salads. Try this recipe for Dandelion Greens with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette.
- Add chopped leaves to pilaf mixes. Great with quinoa, wild or brown rice!
- Try them with feta cheese, sliced red onions and currants or raisins.
- Cook them with legumes. Be sure to use some dandelion in this recipe for Sauteed Greens with White Beans and Garlic.
- Use them in place of lettuce on a sandwich.
- Juice them…they make a great addition to your morning juice blend.
- Here is a recipe for a Double Green Smoothie. Be sure to use some dandelion greens in place of some of the kale in the recipe.
- Use them as a substitute for other leafy greens, in part, or all the way. This recipe for Baked Chicken with Spinach Pears and Blue Cheese is just dandy with dandelion greens and this recipe for Spinach and Arugula Stuffed Mushrooms is just as delicious with dandelion.
- Try this recipe for Swiss Chard with Shallots, substituting dandelion for the chard.
- Finely chop the leaves and steep in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and enjoy a cup of dandelion leaf tea.
When purchasing dandelion greens, be sure to look for organic varieties. The plants should be a beautiful green shade, not browned, spoiled or wilted. And remember, they will have a bit of a bite, so go slow if you haven’t tried them before.
Spring is the time to turn over a new leaf - a beautiful green, dandelion leaf – at its very best, most tender, and most delicious right now, in the early spring.
Have you ever eaten dandelion greens? Do you have a favorite recipe? Let me know!