So many consider the dandelion, Taraxacum Officinale, as a weed, but not so! This “lion’s tooth” has a long history of providing us with early greens for salads, as well as other culinary and medicinal uses. Dandelions were considered a mainstay during the “hunger months” of February, March, and April when supplies in the settler’s cupboard were running low. Many a grandmother used the roasted roots as a coffee substitute, and it is used even now as such. The flowers are wonderful for our pollinators. The leaves are a rich source of vitamin A, B & C, along with betacarotene, calcium, potassium, and fiber. The root is a source of magenta dye. Many cultures such as Native American, Chinese, and Arabian have medicinal uses for a variety of ailments and has often been used as a tonic. Harvest in the early spring.
Using Dandelions When Cooking
• Add a handful of young cut leaves to any green salad and enjoy!
• Chopped dandelion leaves can be added to soups and simmered until tender.
• Dried dandelion leaves and/or roots can be used as a tea.
• Dandelion flower petals (without the green sepal) make a lovely addition to baked goods.
• Spring dandelions make a lovely pesto.
• Make a marmalade with tart apples and Pamona jelling agent.
Dandelion and Potato Salad
- 3 medium boiled potatoes (sliced)
- 1 clove of garlic (finely minced)
- 1/2 c finely sliced dandelion leaves
- vinaigrette (use your favorite and season with salt and pepper to taste)
Harvest dandelion leaves in the early spring before the plant begins to flower to avoid bitterness. Be sure to pick an area where no pesticides have been sprayed. Carefully wash the leaves and pat dry.
Simply mix all prepared ingredients and enjoy!