I grew up eating dandelions, so I'm always confounded when I see people blasting their lawns with chemicals!!! Who decided that these lovely, nutritious flowers were weeds that needed destroyed? And what exactly makes an all green, weed-free lawn desirable? The first time my neighbor saw me picking dandelions, he was very confused. He didn't understand why I would pick each one instead of just spraying to kill them. And then when I informed him that I was going to eat them, he was REALLY perplexed.
My mom was always eager for spring to arrive so she could pick the very first dandelions. If you pick the greens early before they flower, she said, the leaves will be less bitter. So I always try to pick the very first leaves of spring. Yet I've never let oncoming blooms prevent me from picking the greens. And depending on how you eat them, you may not even taste bitterness. Cooking the leaves will make them less bitter than consuming them raw in salads.
Why eat dandelions? Well for starters, they are FREE and often in abundance around us. They are also incredibly nutritious. The leaves are nutritionally comparable to other green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. They have more iron, riboflavin, and vitamin E than spinach. The greens also boast more calcium and vitamin A than broccoli with almost as much vitamin K.
Dandelions have been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years to treat ailments such as anemia, scurvy, skin problems, blood disorders, and depression. All parts of the plant are edible and used in medicine. Dandelion greens may offer benefits as a diuretic, laxative, and to reduce inflammation. There have even been studies on Dandelion Root Extract treating leukemia, melanoma, and breast and prostate cancer.
How do you eat dandelion? You can add the leaves to stir-fried meals, soups, and raw salads. Use dried roots to make a coffee (tea) substitute. Flowers makes great jelly and wine. And you can eat the stems like noodles or ferment them. My favorite way to eat the greens is to add them to an egg frittata topped with fresh avocado (my recipe is below).
Every spring I collect as many leaves before the flowers appear. Once I have a large pot of greens picked, I boil them until soft. Once tender, I drain and squeeze all the water out. After the greens cool, I roll them into single serving balls and freeze. I eat dandelion greens well into the winter by thawing one of my precious green balls. I can toss a few balls into a soup or cook into an egg frittata.
When harvesting dandelions, pick ones not treated with pesticides or lawn fertilizers. Avoid flowers in yards where pets may go to the bathroom as well. Forage for dandelions in the woods or abandoned lots. You can plant your own from seed or even buy dandelion seed.
Dandelion Greens Frittata
(1 serving makes 8 slices)
- 1/4 cup sliced onions
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease or olive oil
- 1 handful of fresh or frozen & thawed dandelion greens
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- In a medium skillet, sautée sliced onions in bacon grease or oil until soft and browned.
- Add a fresh handful of dandelion leaves and cook until wilted.
- Whisk eggs and milk in a bowl. Add mixture to skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until eggs are puffy and done.
- Serve with fresh avocado.
Optional: Add sautéed vegetables such as peppers, asparagus, or mushrooms to the frittata. Top with shredded cheese.
Here are other wonderful dandelion recipes to try!
- Dandelion Greens with Double Garlic
- Sautéed Spicy Dandelion Greens & Onions
- Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto
- Dandelion Greens with Toasted Garlic & Almonds
- Dandelion Salad with Goat Cheese & Tomato Dressing
- Fried Dandelion Flowers
- Dandelion Coffee
- Dandelion Jelly
- Fermented Dandelion Stems
- Need more dandelion recipes? This dandelion cookbook has 148 recipes to try!
Please note, this plant is usually considered safe in food and medicine. Yet there are people who are allergic to dandelions. Don't consume it if you are allergic to ragweed and related plants (chrysanthemum, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow, or daisies). If taking in supplement form, it's always best to speak with your doctor first.