Dandelion Recipes: Vitamin-Rich Food From the Lawn

Posted by on Jun 17, 2020 in edible | 1 comment

dandelion close-up flower partsDandelions are one of the most nutritious plants in your garden. Vitamins, minerals, all sorts of good stuff. And at just the right time, when we can all use a little nutritional boost.

Vitamin C is only found in fresh food: green leaves, fresh fruits, raw or under-cooked meat. Vitamin C cannot be synthesized by the human body, or stored in the body for long periods of time. In the twenty-first century, we’re used to seeing mangoes and papayas in stores, brought to us from the ends of the earth; strawberries and watermelon are on the grocery store shelves in January. But in recent memory–in my grandmother’s day–an orange was an eye-popping treat that children hoped Santa might leave in their stockings. The word “vitamin” didn’t exist until the early 1900’s; vitamin C wasn’t artificially synthesized, so that it could be sold in pill form, till 1935.

Dandelions are a vitamin powerhouse: 100 grams of raw dandelion greens have 14,000 international units of Vitamin A, plus 35 milligrams of ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C. That’s more Vitamin C than tomatoes, and seven times the Vitamin A of oranges, pound for pound. In addition, dandelions have significant amounts of protein, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium, as well as vitamins D, K, and B-complex. Nutrient-wise, dandelions are as powerful as…as lions.

dandelions on lawnOther plants have nutrients, certainly–strawberries, for instance, have far more vitamin C than dandelions. But dandelions not only contain nutrients, they offer them at the crucial time–in the early spring, when the body is starved for them. Before the days of grocery stores stocked with year-round cartons of orange juice, there weren’t a lot of other nutritional possibilities out there in late March. By the time the June strawberries ripened, it might be too late.

The ancient wisdom of eating dandelions in early spring has saved countless lives, and could have saved more: throughout history, countless people must have died of scurvy and other vitamin-deficiency diseases, and been buried in early spring, under the dandelions. The nutrients that might have preserved their lives were within easy reach–if only they had known that there was medicine out there in the grass, green in the very nick of time.

Note: Don’t collect plants near roadways, or from lawns treated with herbicides. Of course, always be sure you have properly identified any wild plants before eating them.

Dandelion Salad

For the best flavor, gather leaves from plants that have not yet bloomed. After flowering, the leaves are much more bitter. Spring dandelion greens are tasty, but there’s a period in fall where the dandelion re-leafs, and has fresh, tender leaves. After a frost, they’re even sweeter.

Just wash the leaves and toss them into a salad. Add your favorite dressing.


Dandelion Lemonade

About a dozen leaves make two cups, but gather more or less depending on how strong you like your tea. Wash the leaves, put them in a cup or bowl and add boiling water. Add a slice or two of lemon. Let steep approximately fifteen minutes.

Pour over ice cubes. Add honey or sugar until it’s just sweet enough.


Dandelion Pie

5 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup grated cheese

Dandelion leaves and flowers–just use the yellow parts of the flowers, not the green bracts below them.

In a frying pan, heat a handful of dandelion leaves in a tablespoon of oil or butter till soft, just for a minute or two. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, add milk to eggs, and beat with a fork till foamy. Add cooked dandelions and grated cheese. Pour into a pie crust. Sprinkle with dandelion flowers.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

teeth of the lion anita sanchez dandelion book


For more dandelion lore and ecology, check out my book The Teeth of the Lion: The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion.

For other dandelion posts:

Dandelion Wine

Swine’s Snout and Dead Men’s Fingers: Dandelion Folklore

Death on the Lawn: Dandelions and Pesticides

dandelion seeds

One Comment

  1. Dandelion pie is a new one. Might try that!

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