If March comes in like a lion, and leaves like a lamb – it seems appropriate that one of the healthiest greens to introduce into your diet this spring should be dandelion greens, given that this year in New England spring certainly came in like a lion. Dandelion means “lions tooth” as derived from the jagged edges of it’s leaves.
Dandelion greens are the “king” of dark green leafy vegetables for many reasons.
They have four times much calcium, one and half times as much vitamin A an seven times as much vitamin K as broccoli! They have twice as much iron and riboflavin as spinach. Vitamin K and calcium are vital for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin A is and antioxidant, reduces inflammation, supports vision and neurological function. That is something to roar about!
These high fiber leafy greens which are most prevalent in the spring are alkaline, a diuretic, lower blood sugar and help remove free radicals from the blood – a perfect balance to this deeply Kapha season. Nature likes to provide what we most need, when we most need it. If you are planning a spring cleanse you may want to add dandelion into your program.
But just like the powerful cat that they are named after, they can have a bitter bite to them. So I am going to offer a few suggestions in ways to prepare them both raw and cooked.
(There may be some issue if you are allergic to ragweed and other seasonal pollens. If you are on any medications or antibiotics check with your doctor if you plan to use the tea or introduce them medicinally.)
Most likely you will be buying your greens at the market (unless you are a forager, or grow your own) If your are planning a salad you would do better seeking out smaller leaves. They will be more tender and less bitter.
Since this leaf has a strong flavor, you will need to accompany with other rather powerful tastes.
Nuts – I would suggest meaty nuts like pecans (candied!) or Walnuts.
Fruit – Something dense like pear to introduce a sweet accent, or dried like cranberries.
Cheeses – Goat cheese which is a little sweet, or blue cheese will work well.
Other veggies – Cucumber, radish, carrot, avocado…
Dressing – Work up something clean but with a bit of personality – 3 parts olive oil blended with 1 part balsamic and red wine vinegar (I like to mix the 2), chopped shallots, Himalayan Sea Salt and black pepper. I like to keep it simple. When working with fresh ingredients, less is more. Maybe a drizzle of lemon.
Rinse the greens by soaking in cold water and draining. Slice the greens horizontally into one inch pieces. (If you have the time and want to draw some of the bitterness out, boil a few quarts of water to which you have added salt. Blanch the greens for a few minutes, scoop our with a slotted spoon and drain.) I did not blanch the greens and was fine with the slightly bitter edge.
Heat a skillet. Add a heaping teaspoon of coconut oil, and chopped garlic. As the garlic warms up and softens, introduce the greens and Himalayan Sea Salt, lower the heat and cook for approximately ten minutes until soft and the inner stems are tender. Add a bit of water if it seems to be drying out.
Squeeze fresh lemon on top.
Dandelion Tea – You can buy Dandelion tea in most health food stores and markets. Or you could make your own. Simply add the leaves to bring water, steep for thirty minutes and drain.
You can toss dandelion greens into your morning smoothie, add them to fresh pesto along side your basil, or accent your favorite salad. I added the sautéed greens to a homemade pizza with mozzarella and avocado. Being creative and having fun is the most important ingredient to your healthy and vibrant lifestyle.