Dandelion Greens: The Wonder "Weed"

If you're lucky to have a lawn, you may be lucky (yes, lucky!) to have a flourishing crop of dandelions. Considered an annoying weed by many lawn owners, the greens on those sweet yellow flowers are extremely nutrient-dense. 

An inexpensive and accessible super-food, dandelion greens are one of the most vitamin-packed foods on the planet. They contain four times the amount of beta-carotene found in broccoli, have 32 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, and more calcium than a cup of cottage cheese.

Bitter greens like dandelion greens are highly cleansing, helping to detoxify our liver and kidneys. Dandelion greens support digestion, reduce swelling and inflammation, and have been traditionally used to treat gout, eczema, jaundice, edema and acne. They have both mild laxative and gentle diuretic properties that purify the blood and cleanse the system, and are said to help dissolve kidney stones.

Buy a bunch at your local grocer or farmers’ market. Organic is best. You can also pick them right from your yard, but not from a pesticide-sprayed area!

Dandelion greens are best when young; more mature leaves are quite bitter. The mild-tasting young greens can be enjoyed raw, whereas mature leaves are best lightly cooked.

Consume within a day or two after purchasing. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, place the greens in a colander and wash them well with cold water. Pat the greens dry with paper towel.

Here's a yummy, simple recipe for enjoying these vitamin-loaded weeds.

Dandelion Salad with Warm Walnut Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch dandelion greens, tough stems discarded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat
     
  2. Add garlic and nuts and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden (be careful not to burn it)
     
  3. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper
     
  4. Add greens, tossing until coated with the dressing and slightly wilted

I like to add caramelized onions if time allows.

Enjoy!

*Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook