About Dandelion Greens

October 31, 2011

About Dandelion Greens

Dandelion (Taraxacum) is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are tap-rooted biennial or perennial herbaceous plants, native to temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere of the Old World.  Both their leaves and roots are edible.  The flowers are bright yellow and are called “dandelion clocks” in popular lore: blowing it apart is a popular pastime for children. The number of blows required to completely rid the clock of its seeds is deemed to be the time of day.

Dandelion greens, which are named after the French phrase dent de lion, or “lion’s tooth,” usually have serrated leaves with pale green or reddish stems.

Dandelions are commonly found in the wild and in our lawns, but they are also widely cultivated as an edible plant. Dandelion greens are commonly enjoyed raw, but they also taste fantastic sautéed, braised, or even stewed.

Dandelion greens have a slightly bitter note: this is why you often see them prepared with eggs, bacon, pork fat, cheese, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard or hot sauce. Fats, acids and hot spices are perfect to balance the bitterness of dandelion greens.  Try any of those ingredients as part of your dandelion dish and those bitter greens will shine.

To eat raw, toss in your favorite salad medley or make a more elaborate salad with eggs and goat cheese.  I like them simply tossed with an Italian dressing and fine onion slices.

For a quick fix, sauté them with garlic, onions and pine nuts and finish with goat cheese crumbles.  If you’re in a lazy mood, just throw them in a stew or a soup.  Or look on our online recipe archive under endive: you can substitute endive, escarole or frisée for dandelion greens

Dandelions are rich in beta-carotene, calcium and iron.  They are known to support digestion, reduce swelling and inflammation, and treat jaundice, edema, gout, eczema and acne. This sunflower relative boasts potent medicinal properties with laxative and diuretic properties (its other French name, pissenlit or “wet the bed”, aptly names its effectiveness).

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