As I surveyed the sunny dandelions erupting about the yard, I remembered smiling little boys offering clutched hands full of the cherry blooms and forgave them for their invasion!
Dandelions, however, are a tasty nutritional and folk medicinal treasure. According to nutritiondata.com, a cup of chopped cooked salted dandelion greens contains an astonishing 305 percent of daily values for Vitamin A, 32 percent of Vitamin C, and even 15 percent of calcium. Amazing to me, it has two grams of protein and three grams of fiber!
It's best, however, to use Mrs. Dash or similar salt substitutes to reduce sodium. Dandelion greens also get top scores for weight loss and optimum nutrition.
Now is the perfect time to try some fresh dandelion greens and a multitude of options are available. Here are tips for success:
* Gather dandelions in areas where no spraying with pesticides or herbicides has been done, and avoid gathering within 75 feet of a main road to avoid dirt and pollution from traffic and exhaust fumes,
* Also avoid places where animal waste is found, and
* Dandelions are considered mildest and sweetest in the early spring, but new plants can be harvested throughout the summer, as long as the leaves are small and the flower buds have not started to form or are just visible at the base of the rosette of leaves. As leaves become larger and coarser, they become more bitter and medicinal.
Here are two simple recipes adapted for your springtime budget-bonus gourmet treat!
Dandelion Greens Saute
* Gather about four packed cups of leaves. Cut off and discard stem bases. Wash thoroughly and slice into about two-inch pieces (use a cutting motion with two sharp knives). About four cups of dandelion greens,
* Blanch (put in boiling water to cover) about one minute,
* Drain and sauté (heat lightly in about three tablespoons of olive oil) for three-four minutes, and
* Then add about five cloves jarred or fresh garlic, chopped, along with some seeds such as sesame, sunflower or pine nuts, if desired.
As an option, choose to serve Bragg's Liquid aminnos, light soy sauce, or vinegar on the side to counteract the natural bittersweet taste.
Wilted Dandelion Greens and Goat Cheese Salad
* Follow first step above. Place in mixing bowl,
* Add about one-third C chopped red onions or chopped green onions to taste and about one-fourth pound of goat cheese, or another flavorful cheese of your choice,
* In a small non-aluminum pan, combine about two tablespoons of a favorite vinegar, two tablespoons of olive, nut, or other oil that is on hand, and one-half teaspoon of sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring,
* Pour over salad and toss lightly, and
* Sprinkle with nuts and serve at once!
This one is so like the "wilted lettuce," my mother made!
Remember dandelions are a medicinal herb. Tips to avoid interactions: Due to the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of dandelions, patients using prescription antibiotics would be wise to avoid using dandelion until they have finished their treatment. Also, the oils and resins in dandelions stimulate the digestive system, according to some herbalists, so persons with ulcers, bowel blockage and gallstones should avoid them.
Sources: nutritiondata.com, mariquta.com; Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables by E. Schneider, thepracticalherbalist.com, and medcookingalaska.blogspot.com.
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