I spent a lot of time pulling weeds when I was younger (my father frequently sent me out on sunny Sunday mornings with the weeder tool; he preferred to see only green in our lawn), so I have had plenty of experience—not all of it joyful—with dandelions. I have more positive associations from the Ray Bradbury novel Dandelion Wine, which I recently re-read and highly recommend.
When I was about 16, my dad took me to a Greek restaurant for a daddy/daughter special night out. I laughed when I saw dandelion greens on the menu. I don’t remember what came with the dandelions, but I ordered the dish because I was so curious. Who knew you could eat dandelions??? As I recall, it tasted like spinach.
These many (many, many) years later, dandelions are the first harvest of my garden. When I go out in the spring to clean up the beds for planting, the first thing I do is set aside the dandelion greens. And I continue to harvest them through the summer as I pull out other undesirable growth. Besides the fact that they’re tasty, dandelions are healthy! While dandelions grow in many spots on my lawn, I only harvest from within the garden (which is fenced) or the side yard—never our main yard, where our dog has free run.
This past week, I enjoyed dandelions two ways –in a smoothie and in a salad. They’re also delicious scrambled with onions and eggs (I loved this before I went off eggs due to a food sensitivity) or I throw them into any vegetable stir fry or soup I might be making.
While dandelion greens have a reputation for being bitter, I pick them when they’re small (what food marketers might call as “baby greens”) and they don’t taste bitter to me.
Don’t be afraid to try this. When I brought samples to the office, I also made a batch without the nut butter for my nut-free coworkers. Honestly…everyone started out skeptical when he or she picked up a cup but walked away smiling and refreshed. Even kale-haters liked it! It has a refreshing sweet-and-green flavor. I always add nut butter to my breakfast smoothies for protein, but if you’re a protein powder fan (I’m not), you can use that instead or in addition.
- 1 handful dandelion greens
- 1 orange
- 1 heaping soup spoon peanut butter or almond butter
- Liquid to cover—water or nondairy milk
- Splash of almond or vanilla extract
- Splash of maple syrup
- Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
Rinse the dandelion greens very well to remove all dirt and bugs. (I don’t often find bugs, but there was a tiny ant that I washed away this week).
Add nut butter. To make clean up easier, I like to add the nut butter in between ingredients or after I add the liquid so it is less likely to get stuck on the cup. Never add it first. It will stick to the bottom of cup when you turn it over to process and never mix in to the smoothie.
Add the orange. I find the easiest way to peel an orange for a smoothie is to cut it into wedges and then pull off the fruit over the smoothie cup so you catch all the drips.
Add vanilla or almond extract (it’s delicious with either of them—or go really crazy and use a bit of both!) and sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.
Add a splash of maple syrup. This dash of sweetness takes the edge off the “green” flavor. I’ve also made this smoothie using a date instead of maple syrup. It’s also delicious and dates provide fiber and other nutrients, although I can never get my dates to completely blend and small pieces of date always sit at the bottom.
Add cold liquid to the fill line. If you like it very cold and slushy, add a few ice cubes and then the liquid. This tastes equally good with just plain water or with almond or coconut milk. I don’t drink dairy, but I think milk would curdle in this recipe; plain yogurt should work (I did that before going off dairy). I prefer adding ice afterwards. Slushy smoothies give me brain freeze.
CHOPPED SALAD WITH DANDELION GREENS
The day after my dandelion smoothie, I pulled more dandelions and added them to the salad I was making myself for lunch. Of course, put anything you want into your salad. Mine was based on the ingredients in my refrigerator that day.
For the dressing, I didn’t measure—just poured or sprinkled the ingredients over the salad. You can’t go wrong!
- Romaine lettuce, shredded
- Dandelion greens, well-rinsed
- Cucumber, diced
- Pickle, diced
- Tomatoes, diced
- Chick peas, rinsed
- Frozen corn (it defrosted by lunchtime)
- Marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in half
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Onion powder
- Dried oregano (or tear in some fresh herbs)
There are more edible weeds besides dandelions. Maybe it’s time for you to forage in your yard, too.