A weed, indeed!
Dandelion is a wildflower, providing us with some of the earliest available seasonal produce in the form of very nutritious crowns and leaves. We generally collect dandelion from beneath a layer of last season’s fallen leaves that have collected in corners of our yard. Those leaves are often blanched for lack of exposure to sunlight, and among the tastiest, tenderest and least bitter of all dandelion. Vitamin and mineral levels are at least twice those of fresh broccoli, and of course there are few calories. Never fear, though, because we live in Pennsylvania Dutch country, where the standard dressing for dandelion is hot bacon dressing, made with bacon, eggs, milk and vinegar, with some sugar added. So you’ll still get your quota of calories and cholesterol!
Foraging friends tell us that they eat dandelion all year, that the bitterness is not overly bothersome if cooked with an ameliorating salty flavor. By now, of course, we’re on to spinach, arugula and other garden greens. Meanwhile, the lowly dandelion, at this point in its season, has also become a great toy, in it’s way – who among us has not enjoyed the perennial childhood pleasure of contributing a puff or two to help spread and propagate their downy floating seeds?