Now that spring is here and your grass is green, you may not have to go to the grocery store for salad ingredients. Instead, gather some dandelion greens from your yard. If you don’t have a lawn, walk around the neighborhood. No doubt you’ll make new friends who will want to know what you are doing when they see you on your hands and knees gathering up dandelion greens for dinner.
My mother frequently assigned the chore of gathering greens to whatever kid was the handiest. Since we lived on a farm in Iowa, our yard could hardly be described as landscaped. Consequently, we didn’t have far to go to gather a bagful of greens. We picked the greens early in the season, because the greens tend to become bitter once the flowers bloom. But we also picked dandelion greens after the first frost because the cold kills off their bitter taste. (Iowans also use dandelions for wine making. I tried the wine once. Let’s just say that dandelions are no threat to grapes.)
My mother’s sense of nutrition was as sound as it was frugal. To begin with, dandelion greens are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. A good source of folate, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, dandelions also provide dietary fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, thiamine, riboflavin and a host of vitamins: A, C, E and K. Dandelion greens are a nutrition powerhouse.
You can use dandelion greens in a salad or add them to stir-fries and soup. If you’re not prepared for a slightly bitter taste, you can mix the greens with sweet vegetables, such as carrots, peas, rutabagas, beets or sweet potatoes.
Here’s a basic recipe for a simple, yet different side dish:
Sautéed Dandelion Greens
1 clove garlic, minced 1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame or rice oil 1 bunch dandelion greens, chopped (about 4 cups) Sea salt or soy sauce to taste
In a wok or sauté pan, sauté the garlic and onion in the oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the dandelion greens and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt or soy sauce, cover, reduce heat and cook until the dandelion greens are tender but their color is still vivid, about 2 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings.
P.S. Do you have a dandelion recipe to share?