One man’s weeds are another man’s nutritious salad. Yup, we’re talking about dandelions.
Leonard puts dandelions, or Taraxacum officinale as they are known in the plant books, in his CSA shares as much as for what they have above ground as for what is below. Dandelions have a strong thick root that reaches deep into the ground and brings back up to its leaves all of the minerals and nutrients that the soil holds, which at Upper Meadows Farm is a lot. (Unlike the weeds in our front lawns, these dandelions don’t breathe car exhaust all day.)
He isn’t the only one to believe in the benefits of dandelions. They have been used as medicine and spring tonic across much of the Northern Hemisphere for centuries. I found this note on a quirky botany Web site for a British herbal book published in 1931:
The dried Dandelion leaves are also employed as an ingredient in many digestive or diet drinks and herb beers. Dandelion Beer is a rustic fermented drink common in many parts of the country and made also in Canada. Workmen in the furnaces and potteries of the industrial towns of the Midlands have frequent resource to many of the tonic Herb Beers, finding them cheaper and less intoxicating than ordinary beer, and Dandelion stout ranks as a favourite. An agreeable and wholesome fermented drink is made from Dandelions, Nettles and Yellow Dock.
But me, I’m not such a fan, or at least I wasn’t last year. This year, I have resolved to try harder to love dandelions. So I am looking at recipes like Dandelion Salad with Lardons and Goat Cheese Phyllo Blossoms from Epicurious.com, on the premise that everything tastes better with bacon. Epicurious also has Dandelion and Sorrel Salad with Paprika Stars, which would combine two elements from this week’s distribution and maybe balance the dandelion’s bitter edge. But I think I’m more tempted by the recipes from a California CSA, which advises combining dandelion with squid in a Burmese-influenced stir fry, or as the base for fettuccini pasta. I made pasta with nettles this way last year and it was very tasty.
I hope you’ll let us know what you are doing with your dandelions.