Hello weeds, nice to eat you.

by cindy winetroub rogers

dandelion greens

Yes, I’m that neighbor. You know, the one who doesn’t spray chemicals on her lawn. The one who believes anything that flowers is pretty, be it purposefully planted or seeded into the lawn by the will of the wind. Clover, Queen Anne’s lace, lamb’s quarters, even dandelions are all welcome at my house. As well as the birds, bees, butterflies, squirrels and rabbits they attract.

After all, according to Mother Earth News, many weeds are helpful in the garden by holding topsoil, pulling up water and nutrients, controlling insects, and helping to balance soil over time.

Many of them are also edible.

Take dandelions. High in vitamin A and C, with lots of iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper, their greens are more nutritious than spinach.

You can juice them with carrots, beets, fresh ginger, and a green apple. Or toss them into soups and beans at the last minute. Or use them as you would spinach in a gratin. Or simply sauté in olive oil, and finish with a little vinegar or harissa, then top with a fried egg. (What isn’t better with an egg on top?)

Deliciously earthy and slightly bitter, prepare dandelion greens just as you would spinach, kale, or any other hearty green. And keep in mind, if they benefit from a generous splash of lemon juice or a good drizzle of balsamic or wine vinegar at the last minute to lighten and brighten and a heaping spoonful of freshly grated Parmesan to depth.

If these edible wonders are not growing in abundance in your yard or garden, look for them at your local farmers market.

Sautéed mushrooms, roasted peppers and dandelion greens

  1. Sauté mushrooms (any type you like) in olive oil for ten or more minutes, adding a splash of white or rose wine when they begin releasing their own liquid.
  1. Add a clove or two of minced garlic and sauté a few minutes more.
  1. Add diced roasted red peppers when mushrooms are almost done.
  1. Add dandelion greens (I like to remove the tough stems and tear the leaves into slivers), stir, and sauté a minute or two more.
  1. Add a generous splash of lemon juice.
  1. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Perfect as the center of any vegetarian plate accompanied with garlicky cannellini beans and a nice chunk of bread, or as an accompaniment to a roasted chicken thigh, oven baked cod fillet, or well-marbled rib eye.