We’re well into spring up here in the Northern Hemisphere and it does the heart good to hear those birds chirping again outside! Today I want to talk about one springtime flower that grows in almost every state and contains highly medicinal qualities, but is often considered a ‘weed.’
Ever wondered why certain plants are considered weeds and others are deemed worthy of keeping around?
The herbalists that we work with would tell you there’s no such thing as a “weed”, and that often times the wild plants that sprout up in our well-groomed backyards are encroaching on our lives because we need them.
The bright and cheery “superherb” that we’ll be focusing on has been aiding humans for thousands of years, but somehow it gets a bad rap here in the United States. My 4-year-old son is so enchanted by these common flowers that he has coined his own nick-name for them – “wish-makers.”
You might know them as dandelions.
From the spring through early summer and again in the fall, dandelions pop up all over our lawn – but they’re usually weed-whacked away like unwanted pests. What many don’t realize is that they’re destroying a medicinal powerhouse that their bodies often need.
The word dandelion comes from the French “Dent de lion” or “lions tooth,” a reference to their incisor-patterned leaves.
In France, a centuries-old heritage of herbalism plays a large part in their legendary cuisine. Because of its versatility, both as a food and a medicine, the dandelion is a cherished ingredient in prized dishes from Paris to Marseille.
Below, I’m going to share 3 revered recipes that you can make with this often overlooked flower. But first, let’s do a quick run-through of the many health benefits that dandelions so graciously bestow upon us.
1.) Liver health: the dandelion, or Taraxacum officinale is an incredible detoxifier. It contains potent oils and bitter resins that folk healers and doctors have prescribed for liver health for centuries. It also helps to maintain the proper flow of bile while stimulating the liver – this is the beginning of a positive feedback loop or upward spiral, which promotes proper digestion. This in turn decreases the chance of constipation, thus leading to a lower chance of developing more serious gastrointestinal problems.
2.) Anti-aging: the root and leaves of the dandelion are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and Luteolin, which prevent free radical damage to our cells and DNA. This is believed to substantially slow the aging process.
3.) Good for Bones: Dandelions are a good source of calcium, and probably the richest herbal source of vitamin K, both of which are great for bone health.
4.) Reduces Inflammation: dandelions contain phytonutrients and essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation in the body.
5.) Potential Anti-cancer Effects: dandelions contain active chemical constituents that are currently being studied for their ability to act against cancer cells. Luteolin, mentioned above, “sterilizes” cancer cells and prevents them from reproducing by deactivating key components of the cells when it binds to them.
6.) Memory function: the leaves are rich in choline which is proven to aid in restoring memory.
7.) Weight Loss & Blood Pressure: dandelions are diuretic in nature and by promoting urination, “water weight” can be shed and blood pressure can be lowered.
Now onto the recipes! We’ve curated these scrumptious morsels from the time-honored cookbooks of French herbalists. I think your taste buds are going to thank you for these 🙂
*You can find dandelion year-round in most health food stores, but if you choose to wild-harvest your own dandelion greens and roots, make sure to pick from a safe location. Stay away from roadsides and unknown yards because toxic pesticides are often used to keep these so-called “weeds” at bay!
Recipe 1: Summer Dandelion Salad:
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 tables spoons dried dulse
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch of dandelion greens
- 2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seed
- 1 ounce of parmesan cheese (if vegan, substitute with nutritional yeast)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a blender, mix the shallot, mustard, vinegar and dulse. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a small bowl and whisk in the oil in a slow stream.
- Rinse / dry the dandelion greens and toss them in a large salad bowl with the dressing.
- Lastly, top with either the parmesan or if you are a vegan, substitute with nutritional yeast.
Makes 4 Servings
Recipe 2: Garlic Mushroom Dandelion Greens
- 2 bunches of dandelion greens, lightly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup red cooking wine
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent and lightly brown.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes until they have reduced and softened.
- Add the dandelion greens, red wine, salt and pepper. Cover the skillet for about 7 minutes, or until the greens have softened.
Serves 4 to 6 people
Recipe 3: Dandelion Pesto with Pine Nuts
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 large bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley
- 2 cups of chopped dandelion greens
- 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts
- 3 tbsp parmesan cheese (if you’re a vegan, nutritional yeast is a good substitute!)
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- Sea salt
- Fill a medium-sized sauce pan with water and bring to a boil.
- Blanch the greens, by placing the dandelion greens and parsley in the pot, making sure everything is fully submerged. Only cook for 1 minute.
- Strain the water from the saucepan and fill again with cold water to halt the cooking process.
- Strain the greens again and transfer them into a blender or food processor.
- Add the pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, a pinch of sea salt to the mixture and blend until you’ve reached your consistency of choice.
Serves 6 people
Like my grandfather always used to say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The dandelion is a great reminder of the hidden treasures that mother nature unfurls right under our noses.
Host of Proven: Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science
& Founder of The Sacred Science
Nature doesn’t create “weeds.”
That is so true Donna ! We only call a plant a weed when it grows where we don’t want it to grow not realizing that there is a reason why it grows where it does !
I remember as a child watching the Greek women digging up dandelion plants in our yard. Of course, they always knocked on the door and asked permission to dig them up.
How do I process the roots
Dig them up, scrub them (they’ll still look rather dirty but as long as the dirt’s off, that’s OK), and roast them at 350F for 1/2 hr for “coffee”. I substitute it half and half with my ground coffee, although it’s fine as a standalone dark tea as well.
Forgot to mention that you also grind them to a powder after you roast them.
Dandelions are also known as pissenlit in France from pisser (to urinate) or ‘wet the bed’!
This is so funny! I made a lot of dandelion salads this spring for dinner and couldn’t actually sleep through the night after because I had to keep getting up to pee! Which I love…because I know that my body is ridding itself of toxins…but now I try and eat them earlier in the day! Although this pesto recipe may be making itself into my dinner tonight…on a mixture of brown rice, some bits of pasta with milkweed buds and some chanterelle mushrooms I foraged from my backyard! Yum.
Does drinking dandelion tea give the same benefits?
thank you so much for thinking of me in your busy schedule. i really love to learn about herbs. i trully love the fact that you provide us with clear photos so we all know how does the plant looks like. i thank yo and send you many blessings……
My mother used to make dandelion greens salad but she always sdaid they needed to be young leaves … better in the spring (of course this was in Mass) that he older leave were bitter? Is this still true or ‘pardon the pun’ old wives tale … (not sure why this is so light in color sorry …
yes they are kinda bitter but i put those ones in smoothies..
Thanks for the recipes! I have been curious about this my whole life. My aunt would tell me stories of being handed a spade and a basket to go out an dig up Dandelions for my Grandpa’s culinary delights. Americans are so ridiculous; we ignore the medicinal powerhouses that live among us. Thanks for openng some eyes to the benefits of Dandelions…Cheers!
what are the flowers good for??
My kids love to saute the unopened flower buds in a little olive oil and salt; we like them very dark.
type your comment here…We were shown on a nature walk with the Missouri Conservation Dept. that picking the flowers, washing them and drying them, you can make a pancake batter to dip them in and fry them up. Delicious.
The flowers are delicious in soups, and dipped in batter then fried like tempura. The unopened buds are the best for this, and they can burst into bloom while cooking sometimes. Also if you just pull the yellow part of the flower and leave the green part behind then they are not bitter anymore and can be put in salad or to top a dish to look pretty.
I like this article and want more information about natural solutions for health.
Thank you very much for all knowledge I’m having with you.
My grandmother fixed dandelion salad when I was a child. I didn’t eat it then but I sure will try the above delicious sounding recipes.
Can you/I buy dandelions in stores if so which stores would sell them. Minnesota
Thank you for the great suggestions Nick.
Thank you 🙂
Thank you for the recipes.
I can remember in the spring my grandmother would make us dandilion tea to drink. She told us it would thin down our blood for the summer. I don’t know if it did or not, but we drank it and I’m 71 so it must have been ok. My father always said that weeds were just plants that we haven’t found out how to use yet. He was a very smart man. I enjoy your posts. Thank you for these recipies.
Dear Nick, I absolutely LOVE your work – just watched your interview on the Future of Healing online conference and so enjoy everything you are sharing. It is great how you remind us about the plants that grow near us too… I am having my dandelions in a green smoothie, together with some plantain. Thank you for everything!
Thank you for these great ways of using this herb.
Thank you so much Nick. I saw the Italian grandmothers out by the roads picking dandelions, when I was a kid. They still do here in Australia. It’s reassuring.
We use dandelion leaves in our Nutri-blast smoothies, along with chard, apples, blueberries, figs etc. in whatever combination we have on hand. I cut the medium sized leaves, leaving the smaller ones to grow, and cutting the great big floppy guys back to make more energy available. The plant’s almost seem to say, “HEY! Over here!” I”m thinking seriously of creating a dandelion bed. 🙂
Thank you for including me when you sent the emailing out. Greatly appreciated.
Wanted to leave yo a suggestion but cannot as this message format erases the message of you leavexxxxxxxtry to edit or use punctuation….please advise when fixed
thanks for the three great recipes. especially the pesto one. love it.
type your comment here…
thanks for the three great recipes. especially the pesto one. love it.
Thank you for shareing your knowledge…Blessings- Michelle
please define “bunch” as in the recipe above. is a “bunch” of dandelion the same as the leaves/stems of one dandelion plant?
Thank you so much . I love Dandelion plants, I used to eat a lot of it in France. A good reminder to look for it here in Florida.
Thank you for this post! Is it possible to follow this blog and be notified of new posts? I had no idea dandelions were so useful as a medicine. Thank you, again, for sharing that information. I’ll share with my networks, too.
what great and interesting information. If only man could see how Mother Earth provides!!!!
I regret that I am allergic to this wonderful plant! Nonetheless, I enjoy all the informational posts.
Thank-you Nick for all your great knowledge…
Very interesting and inviting!
Curious … pick dandelions anytime? Even if in flower or seeding?
Thank you for sharing Nick.
Thanks for the recipies, what is “dulse” the 3rd ingredient on the Summer Dandeloin Salad?
Great eye opener. Super insight no more weed business all plants have a purpose by encroaching into our gardens-God sent
Thank you for this awesome article. Can we know what your boy means by ‘wish-makers’ ??
I was fortunate in that the Universe led me to discover the anti-inflammatory benefits of dandelion leaf tea….I found it while ‘surfing’ on Amazon. No more ache-y joints! Wahoo! PLUS – and this is huge for all who love their cuppa – it provides a healthy alternative to regular tea for those who cannot be without. Eventually one loses, at least I did, my desire for sweeteners in my hot drink of choice.
[Am I allowed to say that? Too late – I did!]
Deeqa ~ I learned that when the dandelion flower turns into white puffs (it is the seeds) ~ to make a wish and blow on the puff to send the seeds floating and your wishes will be planted and come true 🙂
I’m curious…. Why do you blanch both the dandelion and parsley in the pesto recipe?
I have always done my variations of pesto with raw greens.
I noticed that the shallots were not mentioned in the list but were in the body of the recipe. Can you explain more about the shallots? Are the red onions/shallots interchangeable I suppose? Can’t wait to try these recipes, thank you!
My mother used to make dandelion honey with the flowers. We also had dandelion salad in the spring with hard boiled egg and bacon bits, however I find that later the dandelion is too bitter to eat.
Dandelions are a miraculous herbs and work wonders. Go get some they’re all around for a purpose!
I’m going to try thank you
I would like to receive info from. Your site
I love your articles. They always comfort the soul.
think you will like this
Hello. Wonderful recipes. Grandparents would make dandelion wine every mid to late spring back in southern Illinois long ago. Delicious. Whole Foods usually has organic bunches year round. Do pick my own when available in the yard.
I find that if I eat too much bad food and get an upset stomach, eating a few raw dandelion greens fixes the problem like nothing else. The more bitter, the better. I don’t know if this effect is real or just in my head, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!
I was once told that the difference between a flower and a weed was a judgement.
I learned about this wonderful herb last year on a foraging walk. You are right God does give us what we need. A couple of plants found their way into my vegetable bed and a couple of flower pots. I harvest them like greens. I parboil to reduce some of the bitterness then sauté with garlic and olive oil. My husband thinks I’m nuts. He won’t touch them. I tell him , it’s his loss!
Ha, more for you then, Lynn! Love how these herbs “find” us …
Greetings from France. You might also like to know that dandelion is known in French as “pissenlit” (politely, “wet the bed”) in reference to its diuretic properties!
Greetings to you, Lyn! Thank you for that tidbit 🙂 Language holds many secrets to the properties of these plants!
Thanks Nick for all your useful information. It’s wonderful. I now truly understand how my grandfather lived a long healthy life. He lived to 98 yrs old . Growing up I would watch him garden as well as enjoying all the delights from it. Dandelion was one of them . So much of what he ate is advised by you . He was a farm-to-table master . Grew up in Sicily on a farm. So glad I paid so much attention to his works & wisdom. I apply it daily in our lives as well. I miss him dearly . What a wise man he was !!
What lovely memories of your Nonno! Those traditions from the Old Country (no matter where that country is), are so remarkable. Living close to the land, so to speak. We love those Italian Bitter Greens over here too 🙂
I love making Golden Syrup from dandelion flowers. So delicious on pancakes or in tea. I should add that when picking hundreds of dandelions, drying and then processing it can present a pollen overload. I make it a habit to pick a leaf or two from the dandelion and chew it whilest in the garden. I consider that my daily prebiotic.
Awesome tips, Heide!!
Hi I like to now more about the medicine plant.
Hi Alida, to learn more, please click here 🙂
Try the link too, https://www.americandragon.com/Individualherbsupdate/PuGongYing.html
Thanks for this!
long ago I had a Dandelion come up in the yard. I put a ring of stones around it to keep it safe from trampling feet and I also kept it watered. It grew up to my waist. The leaves were huge. I moved before I harvested it (I originally wanted the roots) but I still think I benefited from this plant even though I didn’t touch it. I love wild plants!
So great! Love the plants, and they love you back 🙂
Really enjoyed this blog for it’s originality and informative info. Now if people still don’t fancy trying your recipes I just wanted to ask/remind people not to destroy their Dandelions, at least not for a little while, as it’s they`re a great food source for our friends , the bees.
Accurate! The labelling of “weed” is tragic …
Any guidelines for harvesting wild dandelions? Anything to be cautious of?
Choose your setting wisely. The wilder the better. If near roadways, be at least 100 feet away, if not further. You may harvest only the flowers or leaves, the plant shall remain. You may also harvest the whole plant including the roots. Depends on what you are intending 🙂
Thank you so much….we live in France and the dent de lions will soon be appearing. Will be using more of them thin spring 🙂
Awesome, love the cultural reference!
We have a special spot in our garden where we cultivate the dandelions to put in salads and smoothies. The yellow of the flower is the first in the spring for our pollinators!
Dandelions have always been wish makers in the UK. Blow the seed head and make a wish.
Awesome, love those traditions! Thanks for sharing!
Love you Nick and your awesome team.
May you live long & continue your sacred work.
Many thanks and much love back 🙂
Can you please tell me what I could substitute the red wine with in the second recipe?
Excellent question, Debbie! Please click here for some ideas, some mentions are Red Wine Vinegar, Juice (Grape, Pomegranate, or Cranberry), or Stock (Chicken, Beef, et cetera) – of course, the amounts used shall change. The wine is for flavor, as the alcohol ought to be cooked out. Hope this helps!
~ QuiTe AmaZing~
Glad you enjoy!
Enjoyed learning about the uses, and benefits of the Dandelion, will try some in a salad, and a pesto, thanks for the information.
Beautiful, let us know how it turns out!
Thank you for all the wonderful information and recipes. All very much appreciated.
Our pleasure 🙂
Don’t forget about roasted Dandelion Tea (or coffee substitute if you make it strong). You do lose the inulin which turns to sugar when it’s roasted. But it still has benefits and is SO good. Just roasted it makes one’s house smell exquisite.
Absolutely! This is a marvelously versatile herb!
What is the definition of “a bunch”? An approximate weight of volume would be helpful.
Usually, the amount that is sold in the grocery stores as a single unit is a “bunch.”
Have you tried dredging the flowers in your favorite panko and frying? Tastes like a mushroom.
Interesting idea! Thanks for sharing 🙂
I have not tried the greens yet, though my parents talked about eating them. However I have fried the blossoms like okra. They can be rolled in cornmeal or batter dipped.then fried. Yum yum! Tastes a lot like okra to me. Slightly different, but very close to the same.
Thanks for the information and have a good iam with the herbes
Thanks for reading and connecting!
Thanks for this Nic – I’m a great fan of dandelion greens, but what about the flowers and roots?
Dandelion is a reliable diuretic and greatly beneficial vs. pharmaceutical diuretics. Simple dandelion tea w/a bit of honey once a day is effective for relieving edema and is kinder to the kidneys than any chemical meds.
Dandelion leaves and stalks can be used w/leeks, garlic, onion in a terrific tasting quiche. And then there’s the old reliable ‘Dandelion Wine’….hill folks depend on it & Elderberry to strengthen immunity and avoid colds, flu.
Out West we more commonly have a plant often called dandelion that is related but not as tasty. It is more accurately called sow thistle or sonchus. The flowers are smaller and stand up higher. So do the leaves.
Excellent, so great to get a different view on a ‘weed’. I grew up with the idea that they really are a pest. Poor dandelions. Great instead to look around and see the beauty and usefulness, thanks for being part of helping me see that. I plan on spreading the news and giving it a good rap when I can 🙂
You say that dandelion leaves lower blood pressure? Does that mean I should not eat them because I already have low blood pressure?
Thank you for this information.Here in Southern Manitoba we still have snow on the ground but spring is indeed around the corner .We don’t use herbicides on our property and will be sure to try some of your delicious sounding recipes .
To add to this very good advice on the use of dandelion ,I went hunting for the chaga mushrooms this week in the forest and was blessed with over 3 lbs of harvest .
Many of my childhood neighbors used to dig up dandelions. They did eat some, but used most to make dandelion wine so strong it could clear your sinuses with a single sip!
Being under lock down here in South Africa, I am thoroughly enjoying my daily dandelion and rocket salad that is growing in the long grass that no one understands why i don’t cut. Clean and healthy. I shall try your recipes they look good.
That you so much; just finished making nettle soup (carefully) and have lots of gorgeous dandylions to harvest!
I would love to try these recipes, but I’m on blood thinners. Vitamin K is a coagulant. Should I be concerned?
Thanks for connecting! Excellent question. In fact, many common foods contain amounts of Vitamin K. For instance, by cup, Spinach houses more Vit K than Dandelion. I’d imagine your prescriber would have shared with you if eating foods containing Vitamin K were contraindicated for you. The truth is, all foods and herbs house numerous components – an active constituent on its own may have an effect, but when blended the symphony of a botanical – those singular effects may not apply when consuming the whole plant. A clear example of this is Turmeric and Curcumin. While curcumin and curcuminoids have numerous known properties, they are few when compared to the utility and versatility of Turmeric as a whole. Here is a short list of foods that contain Vitamin K: http://www.coumadin.bmscustomerconnect.com/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?file=00Pi000000bxvTFEAY.
What if fertilizer was used where they grow? How many years do you have to wait before eating them?
Please tell me how and when to harvest dandelion greens. Also are the flowers good to include in the salads? I live in the South.
Nick, Since the first time you posted this I a haven’t felt the same about the dandelions in my yard. I am letting them grow wild and free, occasionally pinching off a seed bunch and eating eat!
Love your son’s description of them…’wish makers’. I too would pull them up and blow until all the wisps were gone making wishes. So growing up my 80 something neighbor already knew back then. She would eat the leaves. How can anyone look at a lush green field with lovely yellow dandelions and call that a weed? It is truly a work of art from above. Please keep your articles coming as I learn lots. I grew up by Rodale Farms before there were any organic grocery stores.
The indigenous peoples will tell You
‘Everything We need, the earth provides.’
Always loved the dandelion thought it was too pretty to call it a weed.
Please list your sources for the benefits you’ve described- thank you.
Great Ideals thank you
THANK YOU . GOOD PICTURE LOOKS VERT CLEAN !
My neighbor, a landscape design Gardner, tries to argue w me for letting them grow, wants me to spray them. No way. I tell her every time, God put them there, God can take them away. I can’t understand her hatred of them, I love them!
I am a 73 year old woman. I have had Parkinson’s Disease for 14 years. Are there any natural ingredients available beside taking more and more medication?
Nick Polizzi THANK YOU for your uplifting articles. Despite tons of sites with similar content, but yours designed I’d say, artistically. Presented in a special way. You’ve really mastered the art of copywriting!
Keep creating Man!!!
My grandmother used to make dandelion wine and she used to salute them in butter and (?) and sprinkle with vinegar to serve. I love gathering them from the yard with her before the grass was mowed. She also used to make her own root beer. Wish she’d written her directions down!
How much are the recipe books for Dandelion , are you in Australia . American herbs are named diffrent
We have been eating these for years (yep, I’m Greek); I finally just planted some, rather than foraging for dirty or unkempt dandelions. I make ‘weed pie” too (hortopita) good stuff