Have you noticed that alongside the daffodils that seem to be everywhere, there are also bursts of yellow from dandelions? They too are so pretty and brighten up banks of green in our lovely city of London – or the suburbs in my case.
Like many, I’ve disregarded these these plants. Sunny and cheerful as they are, they also make the lawn look rather untidy and grow up in places I don’t want them to grow at the allotment. But I was reading an article by Jekka McVikar that I stumbled upon online where she talks about the bitter dimension that’s missing from our diets. This is very true in my household as I rarely buy chicory or chard.
Easy to find with a myriad of health benefits
It’s not difficult to find dandelions but this time of year really is the best time to pick the leaves for eating. They are only just starting to pop up, so source leaves that are thin and part of a plant that has not yet budded. These will be earthy, a little nutty and not so bitter. Also source them somewhere they are unlikely to have been chemically sprayed. My allotment had lots. I had to stamp the nettles down a little to get to them but my neighbours humoured and helped.
In folk medicine the dandelion is a powerful healer. It was used to purify blood and settle the digestive system. It’s said to be rich in vitamin K and A thus good for the skin and our eyesight and rich in fibre and iron – a bit like spinach I suppose. What I like the most is that a handful has about 10% of the RDA of calcium so throw a few into a morning smoothie for breakfast or pick a batch on the way home for a curry or stir fry or salad. Much nicer than popping a supplement pill.
A Feta and Dandelion Tart
I read that dandelion leaves retain their nutrients when cooked so I also made this Feta and Dandelion Tart. It was difficult to taste the dandelion specifically but I felt rather virtuous knowing the leaves were so healthy and of course sourced at no cost.