vegetable of the week: Taraxacum officinale
I used to think that ‘officinale’ in botanical names identified something as the most common, kind of benchmark species in a genus. I was wrong! According to wikipedia, it identifies an organism that has pharmaceutical or therapeutic uses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taraxacum_officinale).
Which brings us to that most unlikely of nomz, the dandelion!!
We all know dandelions as weeds in the lawn that the ducks (and horses) go crazy for, as the beautiful luminous golden flowers growing from every crack in the pavement and beside roads, and from all those wishes we made as children. They didn’t come true then, but (depending on your dream; if you wished to one day eat a delectable but improbable salad then you are in luck!!), they can come true now, as you devour the dandelion for joy (once again, depending on your dream) or revenge!
Dandelion villagers flee before the towering might of my lust for their limbs!! AAAHHHH NOMZ NOMZ NOMZ:
I had heard of dandelion tea. It seemed a little too heavily crunchy-granola to me, so I had always moved on (as the Sex Pistols sing, never trust a hippie). Then the other day, while searching the innertoobz for something bitter to eat (sour and bitter are my two new favourite flayvahz!), when dandelions came up. I thought I’d give it a try.
Turns out, it rules!!
Apparently people used to munch on the poor little darlings all over town. But that was then and this is now. Now we got bananas in California in winter, so how is a dandelion to compete (aside from the limited hippie market)?
Well, bananas ain’t got nuffin’ on a dandelion green in a salad. Who ever heard of banana in a salad? And as a green, they have a nutritional profile that eating God manifested as a meal could not match!
To start off with, people eat pretty much every little bit of the dandelion plant. Roots are used to make a tea that is a diuretic and reputedly good for your liver and aids digestive function, as well as being used as a coffee substitute. The leaves are eaten raw (salads!) or boiled (greens!), and the flowers are used to make jam, syrup, and wine. Dandelion wine sounds so nice to say!
It is often recommended that you soak the greens in salted water before boiling, and use several changes of water while boiling, to avoid the bitterness of the leaves. I didn’t, and it was wild! I doubt I will change though, let’s ride this wild torpedo!!
If going the greens route, fry some onion and garlic, add water and greens, boil, add lemon juice, salt pepper (and vegetable stock powder if desirable) as you simmer the water down.
It is also often recommended that you use only the most supple and youthful leaves of clement seasons in salads. I was not exclusive, and it was great (much less bitter than the boiled greens!), kind of like endive or radiccio.
Nutritionally, apparently (ie according to wikipedia) dandelion greens, raw or cooked, have more calcium and iron than spinach (WOW!), and have a lot of potassium and manganese too! They are also LOADED with Vitamins A, C, and K, so no blindness, acne, flu, fungal overgrowth, or haemorrhaging here thank you!! http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2441/2
And best of all, these succulent little crabs is everywhere!! Let’s go have a picnic and eat the park! Every open space is a salad bar! (except for the herbicides)