I heard somewhere once that the only difference between a weed & a flower is judgement.
The more I work with flowers the more true this sentiment becomes. A lot of flowers & foliages florists work with are classified as weeds (arum lilies, pampas, dodda vine just to name a few), but they still lend a certain beauty to arrangements - as much as any rose or speciality grown flower.
One 'weed' that we all know, and have surely had battles with, is the humble dandelion. Who decided that this little yellow bloom was not worthy of respect? It can grow any where, which makes it both a foragers dream & gardeners nightmare.
The name 'dandelion' is from the French 'dent-de-lion' meaning 'Lions Tooth' - referring to the jagged tooth like leaves on the plant. They have been gathered as a food source for as long as humans have walked this planet - which in itself is pretty amazing!
Every part of the dandelion plant is edible, from the root to the flower. The leaves are bitter & often compared to chicory. They can be blanched or sauteed like spinach to remove bitterness and are high in vitamins A, C & K and calcium, potassium, iron & manganese.
The flower petals are used to make dandelion wine, and the roots can be made into a caffeine free coffee. The seeds & pollen are also an important food source for some species of birds & bees. I feel like the list of benefits of this humble little plant are endless, and a quick google search will give you a whole world full of recipes to enjoy it in every day cooking. Here is an easy one to try at home:
Creamy Green Quesadillas
- 4 cups dandelion leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 of a medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Flour tortillas
In a medium frying pan, sauté the onion in the butter until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Add the greens to the pan and allow them to wilt for 3-4 minutes. It will look like a massive quantity at first, but will quickly reduce in size. Place the cream cheese, tomato, and shredded cheese in a separate bowl. Mix in the spinach/onion mixture. Season with salt & pepper as needed.
Spread two to four tablespoons of the mixture on half of each tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half. Heat the tortilla in a lightly greased pan, flipping once. Your quesadillas are done when they are a lovely shade of golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted.
recipe via The Prairie Homestead
Personally, I have a lot of respect for weeds. My opinion is that if they can survive (and thrive!) in my garden, then they are worthy to a life in there. And if they attract bees, thats a bonus! I had the pleasure of tasting dandelion leaves in a salad prepared at Tamsin's Table once, and I must say, they're surprisingly delicious!
Do yourself a favour & go and pick some. Sprinkle some petals on your breakfast & get back in touch with the beauty that is Mother Nature 🌼