Behold the dandelion. Common. Plain-faced. Abundant and sometimes wished upon, but rarely savored. The bane of any manicured lawn. Seen and not seen. The white noise of botanicals, if you will.
Children and gardeners are really the only ones who actively deal with these plants on a regular basis--for love and hate, respectively--but most of us just trample over them on the sidewalk every afternoon. They are ordinary components of the most ordinary of neighborhood scenes.
So when I started seeing dandelion leaves billed as "gourmet" greens at my local farmer's market, I was a little surprised. Gourmet dandelions? As in, like, from my yard gourmet dandelions? This must be some marketing trick for a gullible consumer...I should try the pinestraw, too, right buddy?
But as I later discovered, dandelion leaves actually are quite good for you. They're filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber just like any other nutritious leafy green. And folks have been dining on them for longer than you might think; at the moment they might be just another highfalutin' gastro-fad, but Depression era families of the 1930s plucked them from fields and ate them out of sheer necessity. Necessity. The plants were healthy, grew just about anywhere, and best of all they could be gotten for free. Really, the joke's on us if today we are buying them at the store when we could be gathering them at home.
Here is precious, sweet Clara sharing her family's dandelion salad recipe. I really love this gal. I also love that she says cooking is just "patience, and a little work." At 94 years old, if she's eating dandelions then I am too. Watch her at home in her kitchen: