Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dandelions! My Favorite Breakfast!

As I was walking to the mailbox this morning, I almost tripped over this healthy dandelion, amazingly growing right in the middle of my gravel driveway! Although my favorite spring food is dandelion leaves, spring has come so astonishingly early this year that I hadn't thought about looking for dandelions yet. But there it was, this intrepid plant, right in my path. And I immediately looked around at my garden's edge and found wonderful lush dandelion growth:
I picked a good handful of the leaves, being careful to choose from a variety of plants rather than depriving any one plant of all its leaves. (Even though this area will eventually be mowed, it feels important to honor the plant this way, being grateful for its nourishment and not taking too much.) A few feet to the north, I saw a stand of bunching onions (one of the first things ready for harvest in the spring in my garden), and pulled several of them to add to the mix:

Now I had the makings for a wonderful breakfast, just what my body yearns for in the spring:

Pick a good handful of dandelion leaves and several bunching onions (you can use regular onions, chives, or green onions instead).
Cut these up in fine pieces and gently stir-fry in olive oil for a minute or two.
Add two beaten eggs to the pan of greens and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until done.
You can add salt, pepper, hot sauce, or grated cheese. Or you can eat it without embellishments like I do.
Yum, yum!

Facts about Dandelions:
Rosemary Gladstar calls Dandelion one of the great tonic herbs of all time, and I agree. Every part of the plant is important to humans. The root is a digestive bitter, nourishing the liver and kidneys. The leaves are extremely high in vitamins and minerals. And the flowers are used in wines and jellies (and children will tell you that holding a dandelion under your chin will predict whether you like butter!). The best thing about dandelions is that they grow everywhere. Now is the best time to harvest the leaves, for they are mild and tender. It you don't at first see any outside, just get closer to the ground and let your eyes scan for those jagged green leaves curling up from the ground. Usually there are more of them around than you think.

Another wild herb that is suddenly coming up and ready for harvest is the nettle plant:
The taste of nettle is not one of my favorites. In fact, I try to disguise the taste with other better-tasting things. In the winter, I make a strong decoction of nettle leaves, oatstraw, and licorice root, chill it, and drink a glass or two a day. Now, though, I can go out with gloves and scissors, and pick enough nettle to add to stirfry, or to make tea. Like dandelion, it is chock full of vitamins and minerals.  It is good for the metabolism, for the reproductive system, the kidneys, for helping with PMS and menopause, and it is a great energy booster.

Note: Yes, this is the stinging nettle that we are taught to avoid. That's why you need to wear gloves and long pants when harvesting. Just bring a large bowl or bag and a pair of scissors with you. Hold the bowl underneath the plant and clip the young tops into the bowl. If you have a stand of nettles nearby, it is good to keep them trimmed throughout the season so that you have a constant supply of young tops for harvest.

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