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Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Walk on the Wild Side: Frugal Dandelion Greens Recipes

By Vicki McClure Davidson

 

Dandelion Greens

Regarded by most people as a wild, unwanted weed, dandelion greens are powerhouses of nutrition and are as pleasantly tasty as most other greens. The plant grows wild and rampant in most parts of the United States and other countries — ounce for ounce, dandelion greens are among the most frugal, nutritional vegetable bargains out there.

Name Origin: The greens of the dandelion are deeply toothed, giving the plant its name in Old French: dent-de-lion means "lion's tooth" in Old French.

Characteristics: Dandelion greens, or leaves, are individually up to 10 inches long and 2-1/2 inches across. The outer green bracts curve sharply downward from the flowerheads. The typical basal leaf is broader toward its outer tip than at the base (oblanceolate) in outline, although it is more or less lobed along its length. These lobes are triangular and the margins are slightly wavy and irregular.

Prepping and Cooking Tips for Dandelion Greens

All parts of the dandelion are edible, including the dandelion root. The root can be roasted and used as a brewed coffee substitute. It can be boiled and stir-fried as a cooked vegetable (be sure to scrub it well to remove all dirt particles).

The dandelion flower can be made into dandelion wine, or be sautéed, boiled, or stir-fried as a cooked vegetable. Collect them before mid-spring, when the most flowers bloom. Some continue to flower right into the fall. Use only the flower's yellow parts, as the green sepals at the flower base are quite bitter.

Dandelion greens can be gently boiled or sautéed in olive oil like spinach and used as a cooked vegetable that can be mixed into soups, stews, casseroles, stir fries, or served as a vegetable side dish. Diced and sautéed with onion and garlic, they can be added to cooked white rice for a change of pace. Greens can also be served raw in sandwiches or eaten as a mixed greens salad.

Dandelion greens taste like many other salad greens, with a bit of a sharp kick, much like chicory and escarole. The greens can be used as a cheap substitute for arugula or spinach in recipes, such as ravioli stuffing or using in lasagna recipes.

Should you harvest late in the season and want to eat dandelion greens that are older and more bitter, you can boil out much of the bitterness by boiling in two changes of salted water. However, you'll lose much of the water-soluble vitamins. The best time to harvest dandelion greens is in early spring when they are young, just emerging, and before the flowers appear. That's when they are the most tender and least bitter. Once the flower appears, the greens become tough and more bitter, although still edible.

After the first frost in fall is another time when dandelion greens aren't so bitter. Boiling them further reduces their bitterness. If introducing dandelion greens for the first time to your family (kids are often so finicky), you can try cooking them with sweet root vegetables, such as sliced carrots and/or parsnips. This will tone down the slight bitterness. Increase the greens quantity each time you serve them — eventually, you shouldn't have to serve dandelion greens mixed with other vegetables.

If harvesting your own dandelion greens, you can save money by pulling them out of lawns or meadow areas. You can grow them yourself in containers. Why pay extra at the grocery store to purchase foods with similar (or, often, inferior) nutritional value, when you have a free source in your yard? Avoid harvesting near roads, since road salt and/or toxins may be present. Caution: Be sure you don't harvest from a lawn where herbicides have been used.

Once you get the leaves into your kitchen, wash and crisp them. This involves soaking them in cold water for about 10 minutes and then draining them. The dandelion leaves can now be used fresh in any dish, or can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to one week. They are best when fresh, however.

Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens

Health benefits of dandelion greens are impressive. They've been used medicinally for centuries. Dandelion greens have been used to treat and prevent breast and lung tumors and premenstrual bloating, and are used as an aid in digestion. They have been used as an antiviral that may be useful in the treatment of AIDS and herpes.

They are also useful in treating acne, eczema, jaundice, cirrhosis, gout, and edema resulting from high blood pressure. Dandelion greens are also high in antitoxins and are chock-full of vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, iron, and potassium. They're higher in beta-carotene than carrots. They contain the antioxidant lutein, which is important for healthy vision. Dandelions are also natural diuretics and detoxifiers.


Here are links to some easy, thrifty recipes for preparing dandelion greens.

Dandelion Greens Recipe Directory

Dandelion Greens with Onion and Garlic
Greens Italiano (video demo)
Dandelion Greens With Artichoke Hearts
Tyler Florence's Dandelion Green Salad
Dandelion Greens with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
Pennsylvania Dutch Dandelion Salad
Dandelion Greens in Broth
Dandelion Egg Salad
Dandelion Fritters (video demo)
Sautéed Dandelion Greens
Spring-Greens Soup

 

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Dandelion Greens with Onion and Garlic

Source: About.com, Southern Foods

 

Discard dandelion green roots; wash greens well in salted water. Cut leaves into 2-inch pieces. Cook greens uncovered in small amount of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes.

Sauté onion, garlic, and chile pepper in oil. Drain greens; add to onion garlic mixture.

Taste dandelion greens and season with salt and pepper. Serve dandelion greens with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

 

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Greens Italiano

Source: Missouri Outdoors

In a small skillet, cook garlic and chives gently in oil until tender, but not browned.

Pour tomato sauce over the greens in a saucepan, season with salt and pepper, and heat.

Add the oil & herbs; toss well. Serve hot.

Serves 4 to 6.

Greens Italiano - Missouri Outdoors, with Martha Daniels, Exhibits Coordinator with Missouri Department of Conservation

 

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Dandelion Greens With Artichoke Hearts

Source: ifood.tv

 

Remove and discard tough stems from dandelion greens.

Coarsely chop enough greens to make 3 cups and place in a salad bowl. Mix in romaine and radishes.

Drain marinade from artichoke hearts and combine it with vinegar, salt, mustard, and garlic; blend well.

Pour dressing over greens and toss lightly.

Arrange artichoke hearts on top.

Serves 4 to 6.

 

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Tyler Florence's Dandelion Green Salad

Source: Food Network

 

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss together.

 

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Dandelion greens with olive oil and lemon juice

Dandelion Greens with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice

Source: Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate

Boil the dandelion greens for about 8 minutes, drain.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and a spritz of lemon on the greens. Then sprinkle with a touch of salt and some dandelion flower petals.

Garnish with a dandelion flower for a dramatic touch.

 

Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate: Excellent resource for dandelion greens and many other wild, edible (and free) greens to stretch your food budget:

 

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Pennsylvania Dutch Dandelion Salad

Source: Cooks.com

 

(NEVER USE after dandelions have begun to flower because they will be bitter to taste).

Wash and prepare greens as you would lettuce. Roll in cloth and dry. Put greens in salad bowl and set in a warm place. Fry bacon and add to greens. Put the butter and the cream into skillet and warm over low heat. Mix into the beaten eggs the salt, pepper, paprika, sugar, and vinegar; blend into slightly warm cream mixture.

Increase heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Pour hot dressing over greens; toss gently and serve at once. (Makes about 1 cup salad dressing). A fried, seasoned egg may be chopped and added to the salad.

 

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Dandelion Greens in Broth

Source: Vegetable Goddess

Coarsely chopped dandelion greens are simmered in a light pork broth until barely wilted. Fresh ginger, green onions, and slivers of cooked pork round out this delightful soup.

 

Broil the pork chops until nicely browned on both sides. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, trim the dandelion greens and rinse thoroughly in a basin of cool water. Shake off the excess water. Stack the leaves in small bunches and chop coarsely.

Trim the fat from the pork chops and discard. Cut the meat away from the bone. Place the bones in a large saucepan. Add the water, soy sauce, vinegar, onions, and ginger. Bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, at a gentle bubble.

Slice the pork into narrow strips and add to the simmering broth. Cook for 30 minutes then lift out the bones. Add the greens to the broth and continue to simmer, uncovered, until barely wilted. Serve steaming hot.

Serves 4.

 

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Dandelion Egg Salad

Source: Prodigal Gardens

 

Take the boiled eggs and chop them coarsely.

Mix dandelion greens, fresh chives, and horseradish with chopped egg.

Add mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, and mix all ingredients together.

It's ready to serve, either as a stand-alone salad or sandwich filling.

Serves 4.

 

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Dandelion Fritters

This recipe uses the flowers of the dandelion, instead of the greens.

Dandelion Fritters

 

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Sautéed Dandelion Greens

Source: Fearless Kitchen

 

Wash and coarsely chop the dandelion greens.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.

Add the garlic slices. Sauté until golden. Be very careful not to let them burn; burned garlic tastes bad.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the greens and saute until wilted. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

 

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Spring-Greens Soup

Source: Country Living

Any combination of fresh greens can be used in this soup; just be sure the total weight amounts to 1-1/2 pounds.

 

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and fennel; sauté until vegetables soften and are lightly browned — about 10 minutes. Add dandelion greens, mustard greens, spinach, and garlic.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens wilt — about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, pepper, and salt. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

Working in small batches with a blender, purée soup and transfer each batch to a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in half-and-half and reheat over low heat.

When ready to serve, divide soup among bowls and garnish with sprouts, if desired.

Serves 8.

 

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Sources:

About.com, Southern Foods, "Dandelion Greens with Onion and Garlic," (http://southernfood.about.com/od/collardgreens/r/bl30319f.htm).
Beaulieu, David, About.com Guide, Dandelion Greens, "Getting Rid of Dandelions the Smart Way" (http://landscaping.about.com/od/weedsdiseases/a/kill_dandelions_2.htm).
Cooks.com website, "Pennsylvania Dutch Dandelion Salad," (http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1643,156174-238196,00.html).
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IFood.tv, "Dandelion Greens With Artichoke Hearts," (http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/dandelion-greens-with-artichoke-hearts).
Kallas, John, Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate, Gibbs Smith Publisher, Utah, 2010.
Mercola.com, 100+ Nutrition Facts About 25 Well-Known Foods, Dandelion Greens (http://www.mercola.com/nutritionplan/foodalert.htm#DandelionGreens)
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Sung, Esther, Epicurious, "From Farm to Table, A Visual Guide to Salad Greens, Get to know your mesclun mix" (www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visualguidesaladgreens).
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