Spring Dandelion Sautee
Dandelion greens are among the most nutritious of vegetables–filling, high in fiber and vitamins–but bitter! I like to moderate their strong flavor with my own recipe, below. But first, let’s look at dandelion’s excellent qualities:
- Vitamins: very high in vitamins A, C, and K. Also contains vitamin E and the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, B6, and folate.
- Minerals: very high in potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and copper. A serving of dandelion greens also contains 10% of the US recommended daily allowance for calcium–unusually high among vegetables, and a good alternative choice to the calcium-precipitating effects of other dark leafy greens, like chard, whose high in oxalic acid content can be problematic for those prone to kidney stones.
- Fiber and satiety index: very high in fiber and water content–which makes dandelions filling, a good choice for appetite satisfaction.
- Caloric density and glycemic index: very low, meaning that dandelions are a good food for those trying to stabilize blood sugar and keep body weight down.
- Traditional Chinese Medicinal qualities: known as pu gong ying, dandelion is cool and bitter, making it good for Clearing Heat, Relieving Toxicity, and Draining Dampness. Used frequently in herbal formulae for treating boils, abcesses and infections.
But most people find their bitterness too medicinal for everyday cuisine, perhaps one reason why this nutritious vegetable rarely appears on menus, even though they are easy to find in springtime at Santa Cruz’ farmers markets and natural food stores. (The cultivated variety sold in stores are technically a form of “chicory,” a close cousin to the common yellow-flowering garden weed, with similar nutritional qualities but slightly less bitter).
Here’s how I prepare dandelions to moderate their bitterness with the sweeter flavors of onions, raisins and red wine:
- 1 head dandelion greens, washed and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium red or white onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 Tb red wine
- salt to taste
1. Heat olive oil in skillet and sautee sliced onion past the translucency stage, until they begin to carmelize (brings out the onion’s sweetness)
2. Add the chopped dandelion greens, and continue sauteeing until wilted
3. Add the raisins and sautee briefly while stirring to avoid burning them, less than 2 minutes
4. De-glaze with red wine, add salt to taste and turn off heat.
Serve warm as a garnish or side-dish. Balances sweeter-flavored grains such as millet or rice, complements meat and poultry dishes well.