Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Dandy!

On Wednesday I don't have to be at work until 12:30. It's my day to move slowly; I enjoy puttering around the house in the morning, then eating a nice lunch at home before it's time to leave.  Usually I go to the gym, but since it was so nice out today (a forecast of 80 degrees, 15 degrees above average) I decided to walk through the neighborhood instead.

After breakfast I put on my shoes, grabbed my MP3 player and phone, and headed outside. Part of my route went by the local elementary school, where I saw one of the maintenance people cutting the grass with a large tractor. As I walked by the freshly-cut grass a strong onion-y smell came my way, and I realized there must have been some wild onions plants mixed in with the grass.

I'd already been mulling over what I was going to have for lunch.  The only vegetables we had in the house were broccoli and carrots, which I'd had every day this week.  I had no desire to repeat them again today.  The smell of the wild onions got me thinking about all the "weed" plants that I've heard are edible, and all of a sudden a light bulb went on. Why couldn't I tap into my yard for something to eat?

We haven't treated our yard chemically for several years (and it shows).  Along with the grass, right now there's a motley mixture of clover and broad leaf weeds.  I've seen several yellow dandelion flowers, so there had to be plants too.  By "harvesting" the dandelion leaves I could kill two birds with one stone; the plants couldn't go to seed and reproduce, and I'd get a nice green leafy side dish.

When I got home I gathered my supplies: a trowel, a measuring cup to hold dandelion leaves, and a  plastic flowerpot for everything else that would be going in the compost pile.  I started in the back, then moved around the yard looking for the distinctive deeply toothed lance-shaped leaves. Some of the plants had flowers and were easy to see. The ones without blooms weren't, but when I was done I had a cup and a half of packed greens. I also had a flowerpot full of dandelion roots and other weeds I'd removed.

My original plan was to treat the leaves like greens and saute them with some garlic and onion. However, when I saw the tiny leaves I changed my plan.  If I were buying them in the store, they'd be called "baby greens" and I'd probably pay a premium price for them.  I nibbled on one.  It was slightly bitter, like endive, so I decided to have salad for lunch

I "hard boiled" an egg in the microwave and threw it into the refrigerator to chill. Right before lunch I gave the dandelions a coarse chop, along with the egg and some strawberries, then tossed everything with balsamic dressing

The salad was ok, but the bitterness was a bit overwhelming.  The strawberries really helped add sweetness.  However, after I was done I decided that if the dandelion leaves had been part of a mixture of greens they would work well.  I'll have to experiment with this...I certainly have enough dandelions in the yard!


  1. There's more to munch in your yard than you realize! That is, if it's like a standard MO yard. Sheep sorrel is delicious - little clover like plant with pretty yellow flowers and a seed pod that looks like a tiny okra. Sour citric flavor. Violets are edible and are beautiful in a salad. Wild mustard (yellow rocket) as peppery new leaves (older ones get bitter).

    They are all fun to add to salads.

    I've always loved wild edibles and have even taught a class eons ago to some Special Forces team when the regular instructor couldn't come.

  2. The dandelions are very bitter. And I think you have to pick certain ones, not too old or something. once I ate the sweet potatoes from the sweet potato vines in my planter. It was good and I'm still here!

  3. You would probably like arugula. I just got a bunch in our CSA box and I may just have to give it to our neighbors. I'm taking most of the veggies with us to our daughters tomorrow when we go for the weekend to babysit the grandkids, and even though Jen is a vegan, she's not fond of arugula either. I don't care for any of the bitter greens, or as I call then, weeds.

  4. We have our lawn treated, but the dandies that sprout up in the garden are a nice treat for Nugget. I do think the younger ones are less bitter. Fun way to make lunch!

  5. We used to have a lot of dandelions in Illinois too and I wondered what it would be like to eat them. I'd seen people collect them. Hmmm... I think I'll take a pass. Good for you for trying.