Edible Weeds–If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em!

By KRISTEN LEE-CHARLSON

The definition of a weed is simply…”a plant out of place.”

​This is the time of year where it seems everywhere you turn, people, businesses and ​city governments are trying to rid their yards, lawns and parks of anything growing but the almighty green grass.

​But fields of the pretty yellow flowers in the lawn, are they really so bad? Dandelion leaves, flowers, stems and roots are all edible if you have an organic yard! The greens are filled with nutrients and vitamins. The leaves are delicious served raw in a salad or steamed and served with butter like spinach.

Dandelion is considered a whole-body tonic and has medicinal properties in nearly every body system. It is especially recognized for its benefits to the liver, urinary tract and skin.

The high potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C content of the leaves makes this a valuable food. And the juice in the flower stalks can be used to get rid of warts!

Other edible “weeds”–burdock, chickweed, cresses, daylillies, johnny jump-ups, lamb’s ​quarters, plantain, purslane, ramps, red clover, shepherd’s purse, sorrel, stinging nettle, ​violet, and wild asparagus.

Dandelion Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

This​ a surprisingly wonderful ​balance of bitter and sweet, salty and savory. Pick​ when the leaves are young, before the dandelion sprouts a bloom.  Serves 4​

Ingredients

  • DandelionFlowerEnough young dandelion leaves for 4 to 6salads
  • 5 pieces of bacon and drippings
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered ​water
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 5 Tbs sugar (or substitute honey)​
  • 1 Tbs Dijon ​mustard
  • ​1/2 cup blue cheese or gorgonzola​
  • 1 hard boiled egg (optional)​

Directions

1. Wash the dandelion leaves really well. Spin to dry and set aside.

2. Fry the bacon and remove from the pan. Pour out about half of the drippings.

3. Mix the water, flour, vinegar, sugar and Dijon ​mustard together in a bowl.

4.  Add the mix to the remaining bacon drippings in the pan and cook over medium heat until thick. You may need to adjust the sugar to taste the dressing should be sweet enough to counter the bitterness of the dandelion greens (dip a leaf in the dressing to test the taste).

5. Pour the dressing over the dandelion greens while still hot. Crumble the bacon and cheese ​on top.

6. Garnish with chopped hard boiled egg (optional).​

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Hungry for more from the Heirloom Foodie? Check out her posts preserving green beans for winter, making zucchini relish, and growing good eats in the Garden City.

   Visit the Heirloom Foodiearchives.

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Kristen Lee-Charlson is recognized for her food consulting knowledge, exceptional menus and passion for the local food system. She has hosted a variety of modern homemaking classes from cheesemaking to butchery. Recently she founded the Heirloom Principles a consulting agency for chefs, institutions and individuals for the sourcing of locally-produced and sustainably-raised products. She is an accomplished chef, caterer and home-cook. As a mother of four, she is dedicated to educating and empowering others about traditional food preparation and the joy and economy of eating local. Kristen is a strong advocate for a more localized and resilient food system. Daily she creates and consumes real food for her family including sauerkraut stomped by her children’s bare feet and eggs from her backyard hens. As an urban renaissance woman her ambition is to eat more local pasturedpork.

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