Almost everyone with a lawn is familiar with the common dandelion, (Taraxacum officinale), with it's short, ground hugging rosettes of jagged leaves, hollow bloom stalks and bright yellow flowers. The blooms terminate their life cycle in white globe of seeds, each having it's own umbrella of fluff and high hopes for the next prevailing wind. I watch every year as my neighbors spend to much money on sprays, tools and various lawn doctoring implements aimed at fighting the common dandelion. They work in vain to rid their lawns of this pest, I however, have another approach to dandelions and do what I can to promote it's growth in my organic yard and gardens, I eat them!

dandelions

Dandelions are high in potassium, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus and ascorbic acid and where highly touted in colonial days when winter brought on scurvy and other vitamin deficiency related illnesses as a spring tonic. Even today with the grocery stores able to provide year round greens many people are finding themselves incorporating this versatile, high vitamin green in their cooking.

Prior to the bloom stage dandelion plants are a three part harvest consisting of the root, crown and leaves. The leaves are probably my favorite harvest from the plant and are very versatile. I find I incorporate them into many meals, useing them in salads, soups, stews, breads, pasta, casseroles and just about any recipe calling for greens of any sort.

collected dandelions

The best time to harvest dandelion greens is in the early spring when the reddish-green rosettes of leaves are among the first plants to emerge after the winter freeze and prior to the bloom season. With the bloom season comes summer heat and the bitterness many people associate with dandelion greens. Prior to the bloom season the greens are crisp, refreshing and not hint of bitterness can be found. Collecting dandelions in an area that is seldom mowed seems to have a big impact on the bitterness of the greens though I however, collect the same plants over and over through the season and do not see a marked increase in the bitterness until the bloom season. As you may know dandelions have a long tapering root, up to 2 feet long, and if any portion of this root is left in the soil after harvest a new rosette of leaves will form a new plant to continue the life cycle. So you can harvest the same plant several times if you time your harvests accordingly.

Collect the dandelion greens using scissors to clip the young leaves. Place in a colander and wash away any clinging sand, dirt or dead leaves from your harvest. After your greens are clean you are set to let your imagination run wild as you incorporate these into any recipe calling for spinach or other greens.

QUICHE
3/4 c dry rice
1.5 c water
3 eggs
3 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped dandelion greens
1/2 t nutmeg
pepper
1 T lemon juice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T margarine
1 c skim milk

dandelion quiche

To make sticky rice place 1 ½ cups of water in a pan. Add ¾ cup of rice and cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat as low as possible and let set for 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid to check on the rice or you will release the steam. When done fluff the rice with a fork and mix with 1 beaten egg and 1 T grated cheese. Press firmly into pie pan, forming a crust. Bake the crust for 3 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove from oven and set aside. Cook dandelion greens just barely covered in water for 4 minutes. Drain and add nutmeg, pepper and lemon juice. Continue cooking until all the lemon juice has evaporated. Sauté onion in margarine, until slightly brown. Add to dandelion greens. Place dandelion mixture in crust, sprinkle with remaining 2 T of cheese. In a bowl mix 2 eggs with milk, pour into quiche. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Lower temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Quiche is done when center is firm.

Easy Green Lasagna
9 Cooked Lasagna noodles

Sauce:
32-ounce jar thick spaghetti sauce
1 medium onion diced
1 cup chopped dandelion greens
1/4 cup chopped parsley
¼ cup fresh chopped basil
1 tsp. salt 1
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 cloves garlic minced
1 teas. oregano

Cheese mixture:
2 cups of either ricotta or low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese
3 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

green lasagna

Filler:
3 cups of any vegetable combination diced.

Suggestions: eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, celery, green-red and/or yellow bell pepper, fresh mushrooms, diced onion, corn or whatever strikes your fancy.

Mix sauce with diced onion, greens, herbs and spices and simmer for 15 minutes over a low heat. Pour about 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. Layer three pieces of lasagna noodles over sauce. Cover with additional sauce.

Spread 1/3 of your filling over the sauce and add a layer of your cheese mixture. Put some sauce over that layer. Add three more lasagna noodles, sauce, filling, cheese and continue until you pan is full. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour with a larger pan or piece of foil underneath to catch any spills. Let stand ten minutes before serving.