If the world is re-opening -- so there’s no time like the present to be in touch with you! I plan to send a little note every couple of weeks, with information about a particular herb, a recipe or two, and simple ways to incorporate some of nature’s best into your life.
So, without further ado…an ode to the dandelion.
“Oh mama, this is the BEST garden!” -- my preschool-age daughter, as we walked past the most dandelion-sprinkled front yard ever.
I realize that most homeowners don’t see dandelions with the same perspective, but I’m here to help shift your view and start you on a path to treasure hunting!
Dandelions are both one of springtime’s most prolific wild plants and also a great source of nutrition and health-giving properties. Rich in the familiar vitamins A + C as well as the lesser-known vitamin K (good for wound healing), dandelion greens are a great choice for sources of iron, and calcium as well. Dandelion-infused oil is a good choice for relieving sore or tense muscles, while also moisturizing the skin and offering calming properties as well. Dandelion used as bitters can be a great digestive aid; it has been used since ancient times for detoxification and as a diuretic, with nutrients that support both kidney and liver function; and dandelions are known as a blood purifier, supporting health in a variety of ways. This lovely infused oil is a great way to connect with the humble-but-hearty dandelion, and I offer it as both a straight-up and also a bonus-features option!
Kinda changes your perspective on a pesky weed, right?
Dandelions are particularly wonderful, both because they are -- dare I say? -- readily available, and also because you can use every part of the plant! For a salad, the leaves are best in early spring before the flowering, but that is a little harder to catch unless you are on the lookout. Now that it’s mid-May, a bit of a slow saute tempers some of the bitterness, making for a great side dish or topping for pasta. The recipe below is a great way to add to your herbal repertoire; the mix of greens means that you can use as much or as little dandelion greens as you’d like. Plus, it’s a classic favorite, from Mollie Katzen’s Still Life with Menu (Ten Speed Press, 1994).
Pasta with Greens and Feta
4 to 6
6 tablespoons olive oil 4 cups chopped onion 7-8 cups mixed cooking greens, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped salt to taste 3/4 to 1 pound pasta 1/2 to 3/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled freshly grated parmesan cheese, to taste (optional) freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile put the pasta water up to boil. Add chopped greens to skillet, salt lightly, and stir until greens begin to wilt. Cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes over medium-low heat.
Cook pasta until al dente. Just as it becomes ready, add crumbled feta cheese to the sauce. (Keep heat on low.) When pasta is done, scoop it out with a strainer and hold it over its cooking water to drain, then add it directly to the potful of sauce. Mix thoroughly. Cook the completed dish just slightly over low heat for a few minutes. Add a small amount of parmesan if desired, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
In the meantime, if there’s something you’d like to learn about, or a health/wellness topic on your mind, drop me a line (or whatever they’re calling it these days).