As kids, we happily encouraged dandelions to propagate on our parents’ lawns by blowing the fluffy seed heads into the wind. While my folks knew dandelion greens were edible, having both played on their grandparents farms when young, I don’t remember us having cut and cooked them.
And, I don’t do it now: If I see a dandelion poking its head up out of my drought-stricken lawn, it’s gone.
But, I’ll pay several dollars for them when they are gathered together into a healthy bunch of emerald greens and sold in the organic produce section in Whole Foods. Go figure.
The jagged edges on dandelion leaves are how this plant earned its name. The French dent de lion means lion’s tooth. Their slightly bitter flavor is not as pungent as arugula, but the leaves add another color, flavor and texture to salads. Also, you may cook them as you do other greens, such as spinach. (Dandelion lasagna? Why not?)
Finally, dandelion greens are a great source of vitamin A, iron and calcium. When buying them, give them the same critical once-over that you do other greens. Avoid any that are droopy or turning yellow on the edges.
In addition to using them in salads, I might put them in a vegetable soup or minestrone, lightly sauté them as a side for a grilled leg of lamb, or coarsely chop them and add to a pot of white beans and ham.