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3 Apr 2020

Dandelion Greens: 3 Simple Recipes for Spring

As temperatures warm, snow melts, and blossoms emerge, spring cleaning seems to be on everyone’s mind. While some opt for a haircut or a closet purge during this transitional time of year, others may feel compelled to lighten up on more than one level. 

According to Ayurveda, the spring season is ruled by kapha dosha and, thus, is an appropriate time for shedding and letting go. This is because kapha dosha is characterized by heavy, dense, thick, and moist qualities, so countering those qualities with light, warm, dry, bitter, and purifying foods is fitting. Also, whereas fall and winter are an excellent time to bolster one’s strength, our bodies naturally gain strength during the spring and summer—making spring the perfect time for cleansing foods and purifying practices. 

A Spring Superstar: Dandelion

You may be familiar with dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root as an herb with an affinity for the liver, blood, lymphatic system, and breasts (Frawley & Lad, 2001), but did you know that dandelion greens are edible and make a tasty, healthful addition to many dishes? Dandelion greens can be prepared as food in a number of appealing ways. 

In this article, you will learn a few simple and delicious dandelion greens recipes for spring. The options are only limited by your imagination. Dandelion greens are in season and have a milder, more pleasant taste in the early spring before the plant blooms, so if you are in the mood for something clean, green, and fresh, reach for a bunch of pleasantly bitter dandelion greens. 

Keeping Clean with Dandelion Greens

Both dandelion roots and leaves (greens) have a wonderful cleansing capacity. Dandelion root is particularly supportive of liver detoxification, whereas the leaves assist with detoxification through the kidneys (Groves, 2016). The leaves have a diuretic quality, making them particularly fitting for kapha season, as excess fluid and edema are common kapha complaints. 

Not only do dandelion greens support the body’s cleansing processes, but they are quite nourishing as well, as a rich source of iron and calcium. If you are new to dandelion greens, you will probably notice the bitter taste, signaling their function as a digestive bitter—further support for dandelion greens’ cleansing superstar status (Groves, 2016).

3 Dandy Dandelion Greens Recipes

Now let’s look at some practical recipes that will help you get these nutritive dandelion greens into your body this spring! 

The first recipe is for a dandelion greens pesto. This recipe is a loose recipe, meaning you can increase or decrease the various ingredients based on your preferences. I like my pesto on the oily side, but you can opt to make it thicker or accentuate certain flavors by experimenting with proportions.

Dandelion Greens Pesto

This pesto comes out bright green and has a zingy taste! Enjoy it on noodles, crackers, bread, salads, and roasted veggies.

Ingredients

2 cups dandelion greens, packed, chopped, and washed
½ cup olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or walnuts
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
A squeeze of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar 

Directions
  • Add all the ingredients into the blender, and blend into a smooth paste. 

The next dandelion greens recipe I want to share with you is for dandelion chips. Similar to kale chips, dandelion greens chips are a super simple and fun way to eat your greens. 

Dandelion Chips

Dandelion chips are a bit more delicate in texture than kale chips, but they also have a great refreshing, bitter green taste. Here is a suggestion on how to prepare dandelion greens chips, but you can get as creative as you like with toppings, or keep it simple and sparse. Best eaten fresh and warm!

Ingredients

3 cups dandelion greens, washed and chopped into 3-6 inch long pieces
⅛ cup olive or avocado oil
1 tbsp coconut aminos or tamari
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Wash, chop, and pat the dandelion greens dry. 
  • Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread the dandelion leaves out evenly.
  • Drizzle the greens with oil, coconut aminos or tamari, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. 
  • Bake for 12 minutes and then turn off the oven. Leave the dandelion greens in the oven for another 10 minutes until crispy. 

The last dandelion greens recipe I want to share is for spicy greens, which are similar to many other cooked greens recipes except that they use dandelion greens in place of more commonly used greens, like collard, mustard, and kale. I prefer to make this dandelion greens recipe crispy, and I find the combination of the bitter and spicy tastes to be quite pleasing and perfect for a cool spring day. Also, the bitter and spicy flavor profile is particularly balancing for kapha dosha—the predominant dosha of spring. 

Spicy Greens

Both cumin (Cuminum cyminum) and mustard (Brassica alba) seeds make this simple dandelion greens recipe especially perfect for spring. Cumin seeds, with their alterative, carminative, and mildly diuretic actions, have a pungent and bitter taste, an overall cooling energy, and a purifying effect on the body (Dass, 2013), giving this recipe a digestive boost and augmenting the diuretic quality of the dandelion greens. Ample oil keeps this recipe from being too drying, and mustard seeds, with their pungent taste and warm energy, add some heat (Frawley & Lad, 2001). 

Ingredients

4-6 cups finely chopped dandelion greens
2 tbsps ghee or avocado oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste

Directions
  • Coat a large skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. 
  • While the oil is warming, wash, dry, and finely chop the dandelion greens.
  • Once the oil is warm, add mustard and cumin seeds, and heat until they start to pop.
  • Add in the dandelion greens and turn the heat to medium. Stir occasionally. 
  • Cook until the greens are crispy, adding extra oil if necessary. 

Conclusion

I tried out each of these dandelions greens recipes and chose them for their flavor, ease, and suitability for spring. However, there are myriad ways to prepare these lovely spring greens. You may also want to try out this Creamy Dandelion Salad from the Ayurvedic Institute. If you love cooking with kale, spinach, collards, and other greens, consider adding dandelion greens into your rotation, especially in the spring. Dandelion greens recipes are nutritious and supportive of the body’s detoxification pathways, and they add a unique, fresh, bitter green flavor to your spring palate. 

REFERENCES

Dass, V. (2013). Ayurvedic herbology east & west. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press. 

Frawley, D., & Lad, V. (2001). The yoga of herbs. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Groves, M. (2016). Body into balance: An herbal guide to holistic self-care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.