The dreaded Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), for which we spend tremendous amounts of weed killer money to eradicate, has been prized over the years for its medicinal and nutritious properties.
In fact, dandelion roots, flowers and "dandelion greens" (leaves) are all edible!
Dandelions are a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. And in traditional medicine, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans used dandelion decoctions (liquid made by boiling down the herb in water) to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach upset.
• Dandelion roots can be roasted as a coffee-substitute, or boiled and stir-fried as a cooked vegetable.
• Dandelion flowers can be made into a wine.
• Dandelion greens can be boiled, as you would spinach, and served as a vegetable or can be inserted in sandwiches or used as a salad green (it has a little "bite.")
Dandelion greens are high in vitamins A and C, and iron! The French even have a well-known soup called creme de pissenlits (cream of dandelion soup), which is easy to make.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/eating-dandelions.html
Harvesting the greens (the leaves) is the most popular way to eat Dandelions. The best time to harvest the greens is in early spring, before the flowers appear, when they are the tenderest and least bitter.
Boiling them or stir frying them will further reduce their bitterness.
So why pay pay extra to purchase foods with similar (or even inferior) nutritional value, when you have a free source of leafy greens in your neighborhood?
My musings: It makes sense that, at the end of winter, when our ancestors were probably hungry and vitamin deficient, that Nature would see to it that they had a great source of vitamins proliferating all around them! No one had to seed them or turn over the soil...the Dandelions appeared just for the picking!
And today we spend so much money just to make them go away....something is wrong here.
Just make sure to avoid harvesting near roads, since road salt and/or toxins may be present. Likewise, you obviously shouldn't harvest from a lawn where herbicides have been used.