The word dandelion is derived from its Middle Latin name, dent leo, which means tooth of the lion. The wild dandelion's leaves are deeply notched. Its scientific name, Taraxacum, is from the Greek taraxos(disorder) and akos (remedy) which alludes to its abilities to correct a multitude of disorders. We grow a cultivated variety which has more tender and less bitter leaves than the wild plant.
A cup of dandelion greens provides nearly a day's requirement of vitamin A and a third of the daily vitamin C requirement. It is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, B6, and iron, among other things. It stimulates liver function, reduces swelling and inflammation, and improves digestion. Its antiviral properties have been used to treat AIDs and herpes, and it is also used to treat jaundice, cirrhosis, edema due to high blood pressure, gout, eczema, premenstrual bloating, and acne.
Uses for the Greens (roots are edible too, though)
- Raw in salads, sometimes mixed with other greens depending on its bitterness
- On sandwiches
- Cooked briefly in salted boiling water or steamed
- Sauteed with garlic/onion
- As a tea
Kale with Pine Nuts, Raisins, and Sundried Tomatoes
This is my all-time favorite way to eat kale! The recipe was adapted from a Broccoli Rabe recipe in a Sicilian cooking class that I took, and it can be used with other greens such as escarole, dandelion, or even chard. I usually don't have pine nuts around, so I substitute almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or nothing at all.
1 bunch kale, washed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
pinch of nutmeg
5 sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water until soft and cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring enough water to cover the kale to boil in a pot. Add pinch of salt and kale. Cook until the kale is dark green and tender (a few minutes), drain.
2. In a medium pan, saute garlic in olive oil until golden, add nutmeg, kale, sundried tomatoes, and raisins.
3. Add nuts and season with salt and pepper.
Wilted Dandelion Green Salad
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 large bunch of dandelion greens, washed, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Saute garlic in oil until golden. Add vinegar and hazelnuts. Pour hot vinaigrette over greens, toss, and add salt and pepper.