After this long winter, I welcome any sign of spring--even the dandelions. If they’re not coming up in your area yet, they will be soon. Far from being a pesky weed, these tender spring herbs are packed with nutrition and great for spring detoxing. Toss about 3-1/2 ounces of the tender leaves and roots into a salad for an additional 2.7 grams of protein; 3.1 grams of iron; 4,662 IU of vitamin A; 35 milligrams of vitamin C and 187 milligrams of calcium. Dandelion leaves, which are high in iron, beta-carotene and potassium, are at their tender best before the plant flowers.
In an excellent Herb Companion article “Weed Eater,” herbalist and nutritional consultant Brigitte Mars suggests sauteeing dandelion greens to make them taste like mushrooms. Collect a colander full of dandelion blossoms (make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides!), wash them, dust them with flour seasoned with salt and pepper, then pan-fry them in a bit of butter.
Dandelion tea is also a wonderful spring tonic. I found this simple tea recipe at Dandeliontea.org: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon dried dandelion leaves. Cover and let steep 3 minutes. Stir and let steep another minute. Serve with your choice of lemon, orange, mint or honey.
Rabbits instinctually understand the dandelion's nutritional benefits. iStock photo