Archive for February 2012




Dandelion: A Tasty Weed by Any Other Name

What is the true definition of a weed?

Most gardeners will tell you that a weed is a plant that is growing where you do not want it to grow.

By that definition, a rose bush could be a weed. Or an oak tree. Or even a vegetable. I love that definition because my favorite vegetable of all time, the dandelion, is considered a weed by a majority of gardeners. And, since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write about dandelions because I love them so.

I grew up eating dandelions and using the bright yellow dandelion flowers to see if my friends and I liked butter. We’d hold the flower under each other’s chins to see if there was a yellow reflection. If there was, we liked butter. If there wasn’t we didn’t like butter. Ah, those were lovely, simpler times.

Most of us are familiar with the dandelions that grow amidst grassy lawns. However, dandelions come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Our local organic produce market sells both green and red dandelions.

Personally, I think the red dandelions, which look more of a burgundy-purple-green to me, are the hardiest and the best. They’re crunchy and they store longer in the refrigerator than the green dandelions. They also tend to have a sweeter taste.

The word ‘dandelion’ comes from the French and means tooth of the lion…dande (dente)…and refers to the somewhat ragged edges of the dandelion leaf, which reminded early gardeners of the ragged teeth of a lion. Although some leaves have smoother edges and a more rounded, elongated shape. Sometimes you will find this combination of ragged and smooth leaves on the same dandelion plant.

In my opinion, the Dandelion is one of the most misunderstood and under appreciated of plants. Dandelion has many uses. It makes a terrific salad. Eat it alone or mix it with other greens for a delectable and tasty salad. Yes, some dandelions are bitter—it’s an acquired tasted. Yet, other dandelions are somewhat sweet. In our home, we like them both.

You can cook dandelions like you cook spinach. In fact, you can cook dandelions and spinach together. Saute the dandelions and spinach in a quarter cup of water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add chopped garlic when the greens are sufficiently wilted to have lost their crunch (or before they’ve lost it, if you like your veggies more raw). Stir in the garlic and give it a minute or two to soften. Add salt and pepper to taste and mmmhm, yum! Butter some French, sourdough, or Italian bread and dig in. A real taste treat!

Dandelions also provide health benefits, which I will write about in an upcoming post.

Our yards and gardens have wondrous gifts for us. We just need to look more closely and learn how to use and enjoy them.

To your Gardening Success!

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2 comments February 14, 2012

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