Monday, April 12, 2010

The Dreaded Dandelion

When I was a little kid I loved dandelions.  I remember trying to impress my mama by bringing home hand fulls of them. By the time I got them home they would have wilted but tended to perk up after she placed them in a coffee cup full of water. I loved it when the flower turned into that big puffy ball of seeds. I would blow on it until the stem was clean -  not really understanding that I was helping make more dandelions.  Most folks today despise the dandelion. Folks use huge amounts of chemicals to poison them. We hate the dandelion so much that we would rather our children and pets be exposed to chemicals instead of having to look at that yellow flower in our manicured lawns.

I moved into a new house in Columbus, IN last fall. The house looks out over a 48 acre park in a flood zone.  The city cares for the park - mows and does the mulching and edging, but they don't try to kill the dandelions. Most days I walk Boston Beans through this park. Yesterday the field was full of  blooming dandelions and wild violets.
                                      Noblett Park, Columbus, IN

When I got home I spent some time trying to learn about the dandelion. I found a website written by "Wildman" Steve Brill who is known as America's Greatest Forager. The Wildman's URL He takes people on tours of parks and other areas and teaches people what is OK to eat.  According to Steve, "[t]he leaves [of the dandelion] are more nutritious than anything you can buy. They're higher in beta-carotene than carrots. The iron and calcium content is phenomenal, greater than spinach. You also get vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc by using a tasty, free vegetable that grows on virtually every lawn. The root contains the sugar inulin, plus many medicinal substances." So I thought I would give eating the dandelion a try.  I knew the park didn't use any chemicals. so I figured that I wasn't going to die.  I read that I should try to find leaves that had just emerged without flowers. These leaves would be less bitter.  Eureka!  I found one. 
My Dandelion Green w/ no flowers!

When I got home with my basket of greens, I cut them off their tap roots and cleaned and spun them dry.

Steve mentioned that his preferred way to eat the greens is to saute them. He didn't give a lot of direction so here is his recipe with a little bit of my improvisation. 

Steve Brill's Sauteed Greens

  • 4 cups washed dandelion green
  • 1.5 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 white onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over a medium flame.  Add all ingredients except salt and pepper. Lower heat and saute for 20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.

OK - so now everyone knows I am an old hippie at heart.  This was not the best thing I have ever made nor was it the worst.  The greens had a wonderful chicory and endive taste but were very tough even after 20 minutes of cooking time. I thought about boiling them for a while, but my man Steve said all or most of the vitamins would be washed away.

After lunch I went back into the field, picked another batch of greens, washed and spun them dry.  They are laying on my sun porch to dry over the next few weeks. I'm going to smash them up for hot tea.  I'll let you know how that goes!

Life is good, enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. When I was in grade school, one of the nuns used to have us kids pick dandelion greens in the field during recess that she used for SOMETHING in the convent...dandelion wine, I'm guessing! :-) Thanks for posting about this...I've always wondered how the greens would taste.