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Lew Larason: Thoughts from an Epicure Dandelions are edible greens

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Spring has so much to offer, including one important plant I wait for: Dandelions. Some consider them weeds and spend money and time trying to rid their lawns of these pretty flowers. However, for many of us, they’re considered a culinary herb.
When I was young, I enjoyed going out with my grandfather on crisp spring mornings to “gather some greens.” Once we came home, he would check for insects, cut away any stems, and wash the leaves.
He dried them with a clean dish towel, well before the era of paper towels. As he was washing and drying the leaves, he’d be frying bacon in his large cast iron skillet.
After the bacon, he would fry three eggs, two for him and one for me. He put the bacon and eggs on plates then quickly sauteed the dandelion leaves in the bacon fat. In a few minutes, we were eating a memorable breakfast, including something we’d picked.
That was in the late 1930s - early ‘40s. Yet, I still remember it clearly.
Many people living on farms, large and small, harvested wild plants. When I got older, I discovered that dandelion plants, especially the leaves, have health benefits, including being a mild diuretic, helping to lower blood pressure, and being a good source of vitamin A, iron, and calcium. It seems some of those country folks knew a lot more than we give them credit for.

To enjoy dandelion leaves, pick early in the morning. Make certain the plants have not been sprayed or treated with pesticides. Pick only small leaves before the plant has flowered.
After washing and drying, they can be added to a mixed greens salad or sauteed in olive oil, butter or bacon fat. Cook just long enough to wilt them. They’re very good cooked and served like spinach, with a bit of butter. They look and taste like spring!
Enjoy and stay safe.

If you have suggestions or questions for this column, contact me directly at guthrielarason@verizon.net.


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