All About Dandelion
Ah, spring! The time of year when dandelions begin growing and thriving. Gardeners may not like this, but those of us who enjoy eating dandelion greens sure do.
While upscale markets and health food stores may sell dandelion greens, most of us can pluck them right from our yard.
Stick around to learn why and how.
Why Eat Dandelion Greens?
For one thing, they are yummy. If you enjoy eating collard or kale, you’ll probably love dandelion leaves, too.
For another thing, they are a terrific source of folate, fiber, vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. And 1 cup of uncooked greens is just 25 calories.
Foraging for Dandelion Leaves
First, be sure you have the right plant. There are really no harmful plants that look like dandelions, but it’s still best to only eat wild plants if you’re certain you’ve identified them correctly.
Next, be sure the dandelion leaves you harvest have not been sprayed with chemicals. That means you don’t want them from the roadside or public parks. Try your own yard, a neighbor’s yard who never sprays chemicals, or the wilderness instead.
Preparing Dandelion Greens
Pick dandelion leaves in the spring, before the plants start budding. If you pick them once the buds appear or the plant is blooming, the leaves will be very bitter. Blanching the leaves for 1 minute in boiling water removes some of the bitterness – but also some of the nutrients.
You’ll need a large bowlful of fresh leaves to make one serving of cooked greens.
Wash the greens under running water, then allow them to drain in a colander. It’s best to use them right away.
How to Eat Dandelion Leaves
The simplest way to use the leaves is in salads. Or sauté them with sweet veggies, like carrots or red bell peppers. The leaves also make nice additions to stews and soups. In fact, some people dehydrate them in the spring, then use them throughout the year as a pot herb. But at my house, the ultimate way to eat dandelion greens is to sauté them with garlic:
In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 4 minced garlic cloves, and ¼ teaspoon of kosher or sea salt. Let this mixture sit for at least a half hour and up to an hour.
In the meantime, cook up 1 or 2 bacon strips for every serving of dandelion greens. Drain on a paper towel.
Pour the oil mixture into a skillet and warm it over medium high. Sauté the garlic for a few seconds, then add the washed dandelion leaves. Season with freshly ground pepper.
Sauté for 1 minute, then crumble the bacon into the skillet. Sauté for about another minute, or until the leaves turn bright green
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