The dandelion fix. (GREEN SAUTE)

June 19, 2009

I am no botanist, but I have recently discovered dandelions to be fascinating creatures. We use the greens plenty in the kitchen for soups, salads or sautes, especially during spring and summer months, but lately I have been using them and craving them more than usual. In nature, they spread like weeds mostly because they are weeds, but also because of their famous, white fluffy head. Each delicate strand contains its own self-produced seed. By wishes or by wind, the fluff parachutes the seeds to the next location, no waiting around for birds or bees, and in an instant… lawns across America are toast.

Dandelion greens on your plate are recognizable by the jagged leaf edge and the tiny bitter burst they give your food. Until now I figured they were as beneficial as any dark, leafy green, but while snooping for info about wild, edible plants, I learned that culinary and medicinal uses for dandelions are thousands of years old and the health-supportive properties are better than great. I think it may be some sort of superfood.

After a typical winter of more eating and less exercise, spring supplies us with lots of fresh produce to restore and revive our bodies. Dandelion, being among the first to arrive, have powerful cleansing properties. An alkalizing food, dandelions help balance out the blood’s PH which is especially important after acidity accumulated during sleepy winter (or all of these rainy days!), or just by eating a regular old American-diet. Let’s face it, we are an acidic bunch. Ideally our blood should be slightly more alkaline than acid, so foods that help this to happen are really important. Miraculous dandelion is known to strengthen organs such as heart, kidney liver, skin and it is high in Vitamins A, C, D and B-complexes, as well as fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium. You’ll also find an arsenal of trace minerals in there, some unique to the dandelion alone. A good botanist could name them for you, I am just a cook.


The leaves, the roots and bright, yellow flowers are all valuable parts of the plant. The roots and flowers are often dried (available at health food stores) and used in teas and tinctures.The greens can be purchased fresh at your local market or harvested from a safe source, (not a treated lawn, please!!~ but if your lawn is pesticide-free, go for it). Be sure best to pick them when they are young, before the plant flowers, as older greens are really bitter. Sneaking dandelions into juice or making a honey-laden tea can fool picky eaters into being healthy too. For simplicity’s sake, I like to mix some young, locally grown dandelions in with my favorite salad mix. This is a good way to introduce a new flavor; by mixing it with something familiar to see what it adds. In the saute recipe below, fennel and onions lend their sweetness and a few handfuls of arugula (you can substitute spinach, chard, mustard greens, etc.) help round out the dish. Now go, get alkalized and maybe even alkalize someone you love.

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 small bulb fennel
1 pound dandelion greens, rinsed
1 tablespoon vinegar
a few handfuls of something else green… arugula

salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and fennel with a pinch of salt and saute until softened and translucent. Put the greens in the skillet, it may seem like alot but they will quickly wilt from the heat and with the help of any water clinging to the leaves (add a splash of water if it seems too dry). Occasionally turn the greens with tongs so they cook evenly, about 7 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, allow to evaporate about one minute and toss the rest of the greens in, they should only take a minute or two to cook and become incorporated with the dandelions. Makes for a good, healthy side dish. Great with eggs too.


One comment

  1. We eat loads of dandelion greens. Yum. And, fancy that, I also practice the pH balance obsession, one of my mysterious illnesses (now gone) had something to do with ultra-high acidity levels.

    lovely blog, lovely Ori!

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