Take a peek out your window into your backyard or stroll into any local park right now and you’ll spot the first signs of spring. Robins singing and building their nest, blue skies (or rain!), and…dandelions! They are inescapable and persistent. Young children love the yellow flowers, bringing in sweet little wilting bouquets with yellow stained sap covered hands and big smiles. Gardeners fertilize in attempt to get a jump on the idealistic weed free lawn while young soccer players build flower crowns instead of defending their zones. I didn’t know this before but the dandelion is not native to North America. It was either intentionally brought over by European colonists and used either as a medicinal and culinary ingredient or the light, fluffy seeds hitched a ride and grew readily in our North American climate.
Foodies rejoice, you can have your lawn and eat it too! The leaves of the young dandelion plant (notice I didn’t say weed) are delicious in salads and as sauteed greens. They are high in vitamin A, C , K, and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron (crucial for generating red blood cells), potassium (to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure), and manganese.* What time is better than Spring to cleanse your body with this natural diuretic AND inject some good stuff into your blood. I’m not a doctor, but eating healthier in the Spring always seems a good way to chase away those winter blues to me.
I don’t create vegan recipes that often but my daughter, Julia, is back from her first year at UBC and I am once more sharing my kitchen with a vegan. It’s great to have her back and I’ve noticed how she’s changed and matured over the year. She’s not my little girl anymore but at the same time I am so proud of the young human she’s becoming. She’s spent some time telling me stories about some of the slightly horrifying (remember I’m her mother!) adventures she’s had while away and I can’t help but remember back to my university days and realize that taking risks and having fun are all part of growing up. She was fortunate to have been assigned to an on campus residence with three other young ladies and their kitchen became a hub for dinner parties and a place for friends who didn’t have their own kitchens to cook in. I’d say that’s a pretty great way to meet like-minded people and forge life long friendships, wouldn’t you?
I didn’t pick the dandelions from my backyard because I have dogs. If you are adventurous, you can go out to an area that hasn’t been sprayed and pick yours, but I bought mine at a health food store because I wanted to be sure they were organic and clean. I’ve had them in a salad before but you need to have really young tender leaves if you want to eat them raw. Sauteeing them in a bit of oil, salt, and acid makes them quite tasty as well. This recipe also uses one of the first herbs that will come up in your garden in the spring, grab those chives while they are young and tender and use them on everything!
Sweet Potato Patties with Dandelion Greens
- 2 large sweet potatoes; peeled and cut into 4 cm pieces
- 2 cups fresh dandelion greens; finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro; finely chopped
- garlic powder
- 3 tbsp shiro powder
- 2 tbsp fresh chives; chopped
- 1/2 can navy beans (9 oz); drained and rinsed
- For the sautéed greens:
- 3 cups fresh dandelion greens; chopped
- avocado oil
- fresh lime juice
- Combine the finely chopped dandelion greens and cilantro with some salt in a bowl. Let sit.
- Boil the sweet potato pieces in a pot of salted water until fork tender. Mash.
- Wrap the greens in a paper towel, clean towel, or cheese cloth and twist all the water out.
- Add the greens, garlic powder, shiro powder, green onions and beans to the sweet potatoes and combine.
- Sauté greens in a bit of avocado oil. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze a bit of lime or lemon juice over. Arrange on plate.
- Form sweet potato mixture into patties and lightly fry them in a frying pan with avocado oil OR bake at 375 F for 20 minutes, then flip over and bake for another ten.
- Serve patties on dandelion greens. Garnish with a scattering of large grained salt and fresh cilantro leaves over all.
*Dandelion nutritional information from Food Facts presented by Mercola