How to Cook with Dandelion Greens: A “Weed” Superfood!
June 27, 2020
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Dandelions aren’t a pest – they’re a superfood! Whether you’re foraging or growing your veggies, these are true gifts of nature… Don’t know where to start? Here’s how to with cook dandelion greens.
Yes, dandelions are those “weeds” you keep picking out of your flower bed!
But that doesn’t make them useless or even pesky. Used for thousands of years in cuisine and medicine, the humble dandelion is a superb addition to your diet, offering flavour, nutrition, and many health benefits.
Today we’ll look just at the leaves – the dandelion greens.
Fun fact: This is where they get the name “dandelion”, coming from the French for “Lion’s tooth” due to the leaves’ spiky (- I guess) appearance.
In this post:
- Why to cook eat dandelion at all (the health benefits)
- Five awesome cooking methods
- Tips / instructions for each method
- Useful facts and info
Why Eat Dandelion Greens at All? Benefits of Dandelion Greens
Okay, I hear you. Spinach and kale are great, don’t need picking, and are often cheap anyway.
And besides, what can dandelion greens possibly offer that they don’t? Right?
Well, you’d be surprised! For those of us (like me) who love foraging and getting your hands dirty (although you don’t have to), dandelion greens are a no-brainer.
But for anyone else, picking them to eat may seem unnecessary. Here are just some benefits of dandelion greens that’ll convince you otherwise – they’re not identical to spinach or kale, after all!
Here’s a Simple List:
- May fight cancer;
- Aids blood clotting due to the amazing Vitamin K content;
- Cleanses the liver;
- Detoxes the body further through diuretic and bile-cleansing properties;
- Supports weight loss as a diuretic and a source of fibre and nutrients;
- Reduces inflammation;
- Protects heart health and improves blood lipid levels;
- Has anti-ageing powers by increasing glutathione production, fighting free radicals, protecting cells from UV damage, and providing essential vitamins and minerals.
Plus, as author Jo Robinson points out in her successful book ‘Eating on The Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health’ (Buy Here), dandelion contains a wealth more of antioxidants, vitamins A, E, and K, and calcium than spinach does.
If you’re really excited about nature’s superfoods, get stuck into our science-backed article on 8 brilliant benefits of dandelion greens!
Method 1. Brew a Herbal Tea
This is the first thing most will think of when it comes to using dandelion.
Often, foragers like to use the flower heads and sit back with a relaxing “good-for-you” golden tea. But the leaves are just are not to be overlooked here!
The upside is that the flavour is fairly neutral, and you can always combine it with dandelion flowers (which are slightly sweet), or even other foraged herbs like nettle, plantain, herb robert, or cleavers, for example.
I’ll let you in on one of my favourite ways to enjoy dandelion greens… Ice tea! It’s a merciful elixir that’s sun’s just that bit too much in Summer – and it’s in season.
How to Make Dandelion Leaf Tea (in 5 Minutes):
- Wash the leaves
- Thoroughly rinse your fresh dandelion leaves (unless dried).
- Chop ’em up (or tear them)
- If you’re not using a strainer, cut the leaves using a sharp knife or tear them into small pieces, but avoid mincing them if you don’t want floating leaves in your tea. Otherwise, chop them as best you can to release all the juices!
- P.S. You can pick up a handy tea strainer pot for just $15.99, or alternatively a simple set of tea strainer balls for $4.90 on Amazon! I use both kinds.
- Boil some water
- It doesn’t matter how, just as long as you get it to ‘hot drink temperature’.
- Pour the water over your dandelion leaves
- For teapots, just fill them up.
- For strainers, add them to your drinking cup / mug and then fill the cup.
- For loose leaves, simply add them into the cup and pour in the water.
- Let it brew
- After brewing for 3-5 minutes, your delicious dandelion leaf tea will be ready to enjoy!
- The longer the brew, the stronger the brew.
Method 2. Steam
My favourite way to cook almost all greens: steaming!
Honestly, knowing how to cook dandelion greens is fairly simple.
BUT, there are different ways, and understanding them can have all the difference on taste and nutrition.
You may know that steaming is often a gentle cooking method, and the benefits of this aren’t few!
- It’s quick and easy;
- It reduces less nutrients than other methods (vitamin C and polyphenols) (^)(^);
- It increases nutrient absorption (vitamins A, E, and K) (^);
- It’s versatile in cooking;
- It makes dandelion greens more palatable (less bitter).
P.S. For the veggie lovers like me (I know you’re there), you might be interested to know that we also concluded gentle steaming to be the #1 healthiest way to eat broccoli (view the post)!
How to Cook with Dandelion Greens – Steaming:
Believe it or not, studies tend to show that the most nutritious way to steam is… In the microwave!?
Most importantly, the key is to use little water, and the least cooking time:
- Wash the leaves;
- Add your greens to a microwave-safe bowl;
- Add 1-2 tbsp water;
- Season if necessary;
- Place a small dish on top to cover;
- Cook in the microwave for 3-4 minutes.
Additionally, a ‘DIY’ method is to use a strainer placed over boiling water (with the lid on the saucepan).
You can serve your steamed dandelion greens alongside a nice main ingredient (fish works well), sprinkled with salt and pepper, topped with grass-fed butter, and practically any way you would use spinach.
However, the flavour is more bitter than spinach. If you’re new to dandelion, combining it with other flavours makes getting used to the taste easier.
Method 3. Saute
Our next method for how to cook dandelion greens is sauteing.
Why? Well, It’s nice and simple – ideal for the morning rush, but just as good for an elegant Sunday night dinner!
Secondly, sauteing adds flavour directly from the cooking oil or fat, and is a brilliant way to up vitamin A, E, and K absorption (which are “fat-soluble” vitamins).
How to Cook with Dandelion Greens – Sauteing:
The best flavours with bitter greens are aromatics. That means plenty of garlic and refreshing herbs, even some zingy lemon zest!
Personally, I’m a salt and pepper guy… It just works! Plus, it tastes great with extra-virgin olive oil and even a dash of malt or apple cider vinegar.
My top tip is to only gently saute – don’t crank up the stove and cook your greens to mush! You wouldn’t, would you? *Raises monocle in speculation*
Remember you’ll keep more flavour and nutrition this way.
- Wash the leaves;
- Add 1 tbsp healthy oil or fat to a frying pan over medium heat;
- Next, add in chopped garlic (if using);
- Add the dandelion greens;
- After 1 minute, stir gently and reduce the heat;
- Season as desired (with any chosen herbs, zest, salt, or pepper);
- Saute for a further few minutes (until soft (but not mushy)!
Note: Make sure you use a healthy cooking oil or fat! View Dr. Cate’s easy-to-follow table of healthy and unhealthy oils and fats for cooking here. Not even dandelion’s health benefits will offset using harmful vegetable oils, margarine, or other low quality oils and fats.
Now, how do we best enjoy sauteed dandelion greens? Firstly, sauteed greens of any kind are a versatile wonder of cuisine.
Really! Think of the countless possibilities where you could have sauteed vegetables, and dandelion is a great option:
- Full-English Breakfast (which, yes, can be healthy);
- Paired with rice or potatoes
- Accompanying your favourite meat or fish
- So on and so on…
The point is, be creative! It’s just like any other green, with unique benefits and its own flavour.
By sauteing dandelion greens, you’ll emphasise the other flavours used, which is perfect if you’re not yet used to bitter greens. (Which is definitely worth working on – they’re nutritional powerhouses).
Method 4. Make soup
Ever heard of Ikaria?
I’m going to assume you’d say no (or that you’re a geography geek – which is awesome). Anyway, it’s this tiny Greek island near Turkey.
And the people there are famed for their longevity – making the island a ‘Blue Zone’ where centenarians aren’t uncommon!
One of the key factors in their diet is wild, bitter greens, including dandelion. And what do they do with it? Yep – everything.
Aha! I bet you thought I’d say “make soup”, right?
Well, they do that with all sorts of foraged greens and pulses! And that’s what inspired me to write about this method.
How to Cook with Dandelion Greens – Soup:
When it comes to making soup, there are several common ways.
Depending on your ingredients and desired consistency, you can use a blender, hand blender, or just cook your soup in a single pan!
However, for dandelion greens, I recommend blending. You don’t have to, but otherwise it’s at least worth finely chopping the leaves first for a more consistent texture.
Food blogger and holistic nutrition coach Ingred DeHart provides a fantastic recipe here on her Eat Well Enjoy Life website.
It’s works with a cashew base, balanced flavours, and is Paleo- and Vegan-friendly!
Furthermore, only whole ingredients are used, which is why I love it!
Method 5. Throw into a salad
Next, we’re doing the most obvious… Going raw! As simple as nature intended.
Technically, we’re not “cooking” dandelion greens in a salad (unless you’re a monster), but salad is an unrivaled staple of world cuisine.
From the middle Eastern tabbouleh to the Italian caesar, and then to Thailand’s famously varied salads, there’s unbound potential in this simple form of preparing food!
Mind you, I’d go as far to say that cuisine would be nothing like it is without such a foundation of fresh, raw ingredients – and neither would we!
How to Cook with Dandelion Greens – Salad:
As you know by now, dandelion greens are an acquired taste.
And yes, you can learn to love them even if you don’t right now!
The raw greens have the most bitterness (meaning the most antioxidants), so here are a few quick tips to make perfection:
- Choose your favourite vegetables and herbs – go for whatever you enjoy with other leafy greens;
- Feel free to include proteins – boiled pastured / free-range eggs, lentils or beans, nuts and seeds, etc.
- Find that balance – be bold. Why not add sliced apple or fresh red onion for sweetness, celery and garlic for aroma, juicy plum tomatoes for a pleasant acidity, beetroot for the crunch, and so on;
- Make a vinaigrette or sprinkle with olive oil, even squeeze over some fresh lemon juice;
- Don’t skip out on your salt or pepper (if desired);
- Serve as a side or a main.
Conclusion on How to Cook with Dandelion Greens
If there’s one thing you take away with you today, what would it be?
I hope you’re thinking: “Dandelion greens are awesome and I’ll never look at them the same!”.
But you may also be thinking: “Why is this person still going on?”.
So I’ll make this quick. 🙂
Dandelions are extremely beneficial for our health and largely overlooked.
Read: ‘8 REAL Benefits of Dandelion Greens – A Science-Backed Look at This Traditional Green!’ (Bonus foraging tips included*)
They’re more than a common weed, and practically a free and abundant leafy green you can probably get with ease*! Otherwise, you can buy them in some stores.
Dandelion greens make a relaxing herbal tea (especially iced), but can also be enjoyed almost identically to spinach, just as they traditionally have been and still are today.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and learned something new! Thanks for reading, and as always…
Until next time, stay healthy
Frequently Asked Questions:
What can’t you do with fresh dandelion greens? For example, eating them raw as a snack, in salads, or with a nice dip or marinade, to juicing, to sauteeing like spinach, or even steaming as a nutritious side for dinners. Other great options to try include in omelettes, curries, breakfast hashes, and baked dishes.
Great question! To get the bitterness out of dandelion greens, there are a few options, depending on how you want to enjoy them. The easiest way is to soak them for at least 1-2 hours or overnight to reduce the oxalates, and cook with some nice aromatics or spices. In addition, you can marinade them for salads or juice them (which will “dilute” the flavour).
You can indeed eat those dandelion greens in your yard. In fact, I often do the same! As long as you haven’t sprayed them with fertiliser, weed killer, or other chemicals, they should be safe. Above all, make sure the soil and plants are healthy and chemical-free.
Absolutely! Every part of the dandelion is edible and highly nutritious. In fact, the stems are good to use alongside the greens, and when fresh can add a slight crunch to salads.
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