Mom says to eat your greens...
Cheap, versatile, and delicious: dandelion greens are a fantastic way to feed your bugs! Dr. David Perlmutter, in his guide to eating for the microbiome, Brain Maker, describes raw dandelion greens as one of the “top food sources of natural prebiotics.”
Although dandelion greens are delicious sauteed, or in soups, the best bang for your bugs is to eat yours uncooked. For the uninitiated, dandelion greens can be intimidating, and quite frankly, unappetizing. Real talk: dandelions are weeds.
So let’s talk about appreciating the weeds for what they are, and how to disguise them for your picky eaters.
...but what she really means is eat your weeds!
One of the major perks of eating weeds is the price tag. Got a backyard? A nearby park? Likely, you’ll find dandelions growing there for much of the temperate season. There are a few important factors to keep in mind when picking your own produce right out of the ground. First, are you using pesticides? If your lawn care involves the use of pesticides, we advise staying away from any dandelions lurking among the grass. Check with a doctor for more details about the specific chemicals you are using. Second, are your neighbors using pesticides? And which way does the water flow? Think about the direction of run-off. Third, are their any unusual environmental factors that might affect the groundwater near you? Recent legislation has lifted restrictions against dumping coal waste in streams. Check with local environmental agencies to find out whether gardening is safe in your neighborhood.
If you’ve checked off the list, get picking! It’s best to harvest your dandelion greens early-- the longer they’ve been around, the more bitter they get. Look for new shoots that haven’t yet flowered. Early spring is one of the best times to pick dandelion greens, but if you’re willing to put in a little work, you can have yours producing throughout the temperate season where you live. Dandelion roots grow back, so simply remove the part of the plant which emerges from the soil, and wait for regrowth.
If you don’t feel comfortable eating your weeds, you can always buy someone else’s! Dandelion greens are popular at farmers’ markets, and can be found in the produce department of many grocery stores. For our Brooklynites, check out the organic Ober Creek Farm CSA share, which features dandelion greens in its late spring/early summer boxes.
That’s salad of greens!
Mix ‘em in with lettuce or greens of your choice, add your favorite toppings, and dress as you please: it doesn’t get any easier. The recipe below is just one basic iteration of a dandelion greens salad.
What you’ll need:
- 1 bunch of dandelion greens
- 1 pink grapefruit
- 1 navel (or really any kind) orange
- 1 medium lemon
- 2 tbs of white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- ½ cup of walnuts (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Gettin’ it done:
- Wash the dandelion greens. Chop or rip to desired size. If you’re doing a little camouflage, mix in some other lettuces or greens. Place in the salad bowl.
- Peel the grapefruit and the orange and separate the pieces. Throw ‘em into the bowl. If you’re adding any other toppings, like walnuts, dried fruit, or veggies, now’s the time!
- Zest the lemon over the salad bowl. Then, juice the lemon into a separate small bowl.
- In the small bowl, mix in evoo and white balsamic vinegar.
- When you are ready to eat, give the dressing a stir, and dress the portion of the salad you plan to eat immediately.
- Undressed leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator.