As spring continues, so do the dandelions. While some work tirelessly to rid their yards of these gems, I have an endless supply of fresh greens. One of my favorite pictures of my daughter is when she was 3 years old and blowing the white fluff from a dandelion and making a wish. I am sure that dandelions can bring memories to you, either wonderful or trying to get all of them out of your yard.
There are a few tricks to using dandelion greens that I want to share with you. But first let’s look at the nutrition of dandelion greens and I guarantee you will be searching for these greens either in your yard or one of your neighbor’s. One cup of dandelion greens is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including 112% of daily recommended value of vitamin A and 535% of vitamin K. The greens boost immunity and calm inflammation. Dandelion greens have been shown to have diuretic properties which are helpful in reducing symptoms of liver, gallbladder, and kidney conditions.
My husband sent me a picture of a moose eating grass — or so he thought — outside the bedroom window. As I looked closer, that moose was eating dandelions. He knows what’s good for him.
The tricks to enjoying these greens at their fullest are these:
1. Look for smaller leaves. These will be a bit sweeter. If I am foraging later in the season, I will use the larger leaves but will cut the bottom of the stem off.
2. Dandelion greens will remind you a bit of kale. If eating raw, squeeze a lemon over the leaves. This will help to make the leaves not as bitter. Dandelion greens can be eaten raw or cooked. I would like to share a few recipes that I have found delicious. Besides the recipes that I am sharing you can also just sauté the greens in olive oil and garlic. After cooking them, give them a squeeze of fresh lemon and sea salt and fresh ground pepper. As always, the dandelions aren’t available at Kitchen Kneads, but all of the ingredients that I like to call bare-bones ingredients can be found at Kitchen Kneads.
Dandelion and Cauliflower Soup
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 cups chopped cauliflower (about 1 medium head)
• 4 green onions, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
• 2 heaping cups chopped or torn dandelion greens (no thick stems, I like to cut the greens with my kitchen shears)
• ½ medium ripe avocado, pitted and diced
• Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot.
2. Add the cauliflower and green onions.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until the green onions are soft.
4. Add the garlic. Stir for 1 minute.
5. Add the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender.
6. Remove from heat and stir in the dandelion greens until wilted.
7. Allow the soup to stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
8. Stir the avocado into the soup. Use a blender to puree the soup until it is thick and creamy.
9. Serve right away, and don’t forget to make a wish.
I have made 2 different pesto recipes. They are both delicious. I wanted to include both for you to make your choice or like me, have 2 favorites.
Dandelion Leaf Pesto Recipe #1
• 4 cups fresh dandelion greens (young, smaller leaves are preferable and less bitter)
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 cup walnuts (or other nuts)
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• ¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
• ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
• ¼ – 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1. Pick fresh dandelions greens. Wash and spin dry.
2. Place dandelions in a food processor
3. Add lemon juice and olive oil.
4. Process in a food processor.
5. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth consistency.
Dandelion Leaf Pesto Recipe #2
• ½ cup shelled pine nuts
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 cups chopped fresh dandelion leaves, washed and spun dry
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest
• ½ cup olive oil
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
1. Place all ingredients except the parmesan into the food processor. Process until smooth. If it’s too think, slowly add a bit more olive oil.
2. Add the parmesan and continue to blend until the mixture has a smooth consistency.
Both of these pestos are delicious with crackers and cheese. I like to use the pesto as a spread for a grilled sandwich. I use pesto and mayonnaise on the bread and then cheese and chicken for a delicious grilled sandwich.
Dandelion Green Salad
• Gather a large bowl of fresh dandelion greens, wash, spin dry and chop
• Juice of 1 lemon
• ½ red onion, chopped or diced to preference
• ½ cup chopped walnuts
• ¼ – 1/3 cup feta cheese
• 1 small to medium apple, diced
1. In a large salad bowl, add ingredients in order as stated above.
2. Toss to mix.
3. Make dressing and add to taste.
• 3 Tablespoons honey
• 1 cup olive oil
• ½ cup apple cider vinegar
Using a jar, mix together ingredients, shake and pour over finished salad. You may have extra dressing. Use to taste.
I challenge you to try something new this spring and see if foraging is a fun activity for you and the kids. It may surprise you to have this nutritional gem in your yard that you may have thought as a pest.