Dandelions are great! There, I said it. The greens are one of the most nutritious plants on the planet. It's a garden irony that we're trying so hard to exterminate them from our lawns and gardens. Previous generations knew the power of the plant, making wine, salads and other dishes out of the plants.
The trick to using dandelions is picking them early, right now before the flower bud emerges in the center of the plant. Be sure to pick them from an area that has not been sprayed with herbicides. The herbicide 2,4-D is the most common; it's a derivative of Agent Orange and something to stay away from. There are much better organic weed controls out there; I'll talk about them in the upcoming weeks.
Once the plant sends up a bud, the greens get very bitter. Let the flowering cycle take place then cut the plant down to the ground. Now the greens that emerge will be almost as good as the spring foliage.
Every part of the plant is edible except the fuzzy white seed head.
I love to pair the dandelions with red sauce or balsamic vinaigrette. Bacon is also a traditional partner. Here are some cool recipes to try.
Every year in May I travel to the Breitenbach Winery in Dover, Ohio, to judge The Great Dandelion Cookoff. It's an incredible experience and visitors can taste the winners. I'm missing the event this year due to another commitment, but you should make the trip over.
Dandelions should be embraced; they are tasty, nutritious and beautiful.