It's spring, and the bright yellow heads of dandelions dot the landscape all around. Some people find themselves on bended knee, trying to wrest every last dandelion from their lawns. All I have to say about that is...STOP THE INSANITY!!!
Dandelions are super healthy food! Not to mention a fabulous flower that brightens up all our boring green lawns. How amazing that they're so plentiful; perhaps that's why they're so under-valued. If they were rarer, I'm sure we would see them as more than a weed!
Dandelion greens are delicious, and to prove it I cooked up a new lasagna recipe using the greens from the plant. Check it out below. But first, some info on how healthy dandelion really is.
' The health benefits of dandelion include relief from liver disorder, diabetes, urinary disorders, acne, jaundice, cancer and anemia. It also helps in maintaining bone health, skin care and weight loss. Dandelion is rich in vitamin A, C, iron, calcium and detoxifiers.' (see more at Organic Facts).
The CBC just released a story about Candian researchers who have found great cancer-fighting properties in simple dandelion root extract, which can be ingested as a tea.
' Siyaram Pandey, a biochemist at the University of Windsor, has been studying the anti-cancer potential of dandelion root extract for almost two years.
His team’s first phase of research showed that dandelion root extract forced a very aggressive and drug-resistant type of blood cancer cell, known as chronic monocytic myeloid leukemia, to essentially commit suicide.
Researchers then discovered that repeated treatment with low dose dandelion root extract was effective in killing most of the cancerous cells.' (see more at CBC news)
So while we slave away in the garden in spring, dreaming of all the bounty it'll produce, we already have a healthy & delicious green that's ready to eat before anything else has started growing...and there's no work involved. You can just walk outside and pick those darn leaves, and actually eat them instead of cursing them!
By the way, this is the perfect chance to get your kids used to picking greens-there's no way they can screw up picking dandelion greens! It's sort of like the garden pre-season training. If you can teach your kids to pick these greens that cost you no money and are so plentiful, then they'll be pros at picking your prized arugula when it sprouts. One less job for mama, I say.
But how to eat dandelion greens? We could just sit and munch on them, standing in the middle of a field like my son Elijah, or we could tweak some recipes and come up with some great meal ideas.
I have a Martha Stewart lasagna recipe that calls for chopped swiss chard, so I decided to trade the swiss chard for dandelions and see how it turned out.
Thus was born ' Dandelemon Lasagna'.
It passed the taste test in our house -Daniel and Elijah ate theirs all up and Elijah declared "This 'licious!" Andy ate three helpings. Not bad for a recipe using a 'weed'!
So try out the recipe (it's in full down below) and send me some recipes of your own dandelion goodness.
To start, just walk out of your house in April or May, and bend down and pick you some dandelion greens. Then wash them. Thankfully, in Ontario we have laws that prohibit the use of chemical weed killers now, so there are lots more dandelions everywhere. Now that people can't spray, they should, in theory, be pretty organic, without pesticides to rinse off. Maybe just don't pick them in the dog walking part of your local park, you know?
Wash and chop up those dandelion greens.
Melt butter in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes. The original recipe called for all-purpose flour, but I don't eat gluten, so I just substituted rice flour instead. You can use either one. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Whisk in 3/4 cup parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in the dandelion greens.
Cook turkey in a skillet over high heat until no longer pink.
Cover lemon slices with cold water by 3 inches in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon.
Spread 1/4 sauce in an 8-inch non- reactive baking dish. I used gluten-free rice pasta noodles, but you can use regular noodles if you like your gluten. Top with 2 noodles, half the sausage, and 1 cup sauce. Repeat. Top with a layer of lemons, 2 noodles, then remaining sauce and lemons. Bake, covered with parchment-lined foil, for 27 minutes.
Remove from oven. Heat broiler. Uncover lasagna; top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Broil until bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes.
Enjoy! It might be all the more enjoyable to eat this fabulous lasagna by a window where you can watch your neighbor grunt and groan while trying to wrestle every last dandelion out of their lawn.
Dandelion, Turkey and Lemon Lasagna
Amended from Martha Stewart recipes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (rice flour for gluten-free)
3 cups whole milk
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
5 cups coarsely chopped dandelion greens
1 lb. organic ground turkey
1 lemon, very thinly sliced
6 no-boil lasagna noodles (rice lasagna noodles for gluten-free)
1. Melt butter in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in 3/4 cup parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in dandelion greens.
2. Preheat oven to 350 C. Cook turkey in a skillet over high heat until no longer pink.
3. Cover lemon slices with cold water by 3 inches in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon.
4. Spread 1/4 sauce in an 8-inch non- reactive baking dish. Top with 2 noodles, half the sausage, and 1 cup sauce. Repeat. Top with a layer of lemons, 2 noodles, then remaining sauce and lemons. Bake, covered with parchment-lined foil, for 27 minutes.
5. Remove from oven. Heat broiler. Uncover lasagna; top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Broil until bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes.