Dandelions are starting to show themselves all over the park—a sure sign of Spring.

This cheerful little plant has often been cast as public enemy number one by gardeners. However, it was originally brought here from Europe as a garden crop. Its name comes from the French dent de lion (lion’s tooth) and refers to the shape of the leaves.

All parts of the plant are edible. The trick is knowing when and how to prepare them. Dandelion flowers can be eaten raw in salads, made into jelly, and dipped in batter and fried. They also make a delicious wine.

The leaves are high in potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. Young, tender leaves can be eaten raw. Slightly older ones are good sautéed, boiled, or braised.

Dandelion roots have many culinary and medicinal uses. They are best harvested in late Fall through early Spring when the plant is dormant. The freezing temperatures of Winter convert inulin in the roots to fructose, making them more palatable. Spring roots are highest in taraxacin, which stimulates bile production and improves liver function. Roots can be roasted and eaten, or boiled to make a coffee-like beverage.

Plants should only be harvested from a location that is known to be free from chemical sprays and pet waste, and at least six feet from roads.

Sautéed Dandelion Green Recipe

2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch dandelion greens
Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until translucent.
  2. Add the dandelion greens and cook for 2–4 minutes. If your greens are still tough, cover and cook for 1–2 minutes longer.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.