Spring Picks: Dandelion Salad

Dandelion  A Sure Sign of Spring: Dandelions ~!            

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
                                                 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 “What is an herb? Often, it is a weed in someone else’s garden…                                                           but is a useful plant to another.” ~ Popular Herbal-ism  (paraphrased)                           

 “There is a time for everything,
                and a season for every activity under heaven” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Now sprouting up once again in yards and gardens everywhere spring is springing, dandelions are making their seasonal appearance! Believe it or not they can be tasty and actually serve a purpose, although it may be hard to believe!   

Favorite Spring~thyme Recipe: 
Spring Dandelion Salad

1 handful (or bunch) dandelion leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
4 cups romaine leaves, chopped into bite-sized pieces
12 cherry tomatoes
1/8 cup finely chopped red onion
1 small bunch chive leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup chive flowers

Thoroughly wash and dry the greens, tomatoes, chive blossoms and leaves. Combine all ingredients, tossing well. Serve with your favorite vinaigrette.

Note: Dandelion greens are available in many supermarkets. If you wild craft (harvest) your own, be sure they are chemical-free! 

About Dandelion: Dandelion  Taxacum officinale
Genus name derived from the Greek taraxos, meaning ‘disorder;’ akos for ‘remedy’
Family: Compositae
Other family members include: daisy, dandelion, and marigold
Also known as: Lion’s Tooth, wild endive
Parts used: Primarily roots, also leaves
Commonly regarded as a weed, its invasive nature has long overtaken the recognition of dandelion as the medicinal herb is really is. Shown to have many medicinal benefits, the leaves should be harvested when they are young, as they become increasingly bitter. It is often recommended that the taproot be harvested at the end of the second growing season. Clip the flower before the seed head forms, to prevent spreading.

Dandelion’s healing history goes way back, more than 1,000 years. Use of the dandelion is traced through many recognized forms of herbal medicine, including ancient Chinese, and Ayurvedic.

In the Middle Ages, Europeans believed in the Doctrine of Signatures, which follows the line of reasoning that a plant’s physical characteristics reveal their healing properties. Based on this practice, anything yellow was associated with the liver’s yellow bile, and used as a remedy for liver-related health conditions.

Dandelion’s reputation was well-established by the 17th century. The French thought the leaves were shaped like lion’s teeth naming it dent de lion, which when later anglicized, translated as dandelion. Reportedly, English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommended dandelion for every “evil disposition of the body,” thus making the herb become known as the ‘official remedy for disorders,’ as was so often prescribed.

The colonists of early America introduced the dandelion. Native Americans readily adopted the herb for use as a tonic. Later in US medical practice, the American Eclectic physicians, forerunners of today’s naturopaths referred to dandelion’s properties as overrated. While herbalists recommend dandelion for specific conditions, the FDA continues to regard the herb as a weed with “no convincing reason for believing it possesses any therapeutic virtues.”

Ever heard of a “Spring Tonic”? The old folks made them every year. They made dandelion wine, too.

Attesting to the dandelion’s long and proud history of use as a healing herb, a cultivated and well cared-for plant specimen is featured in the Herb Society of America’s “Medicinal Herb Garden,” located in the National Herb Garden.

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