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Tips for Taking Herbs Successfully
Cilantro Substitute
Herbs That Changed the World
Herbal Pet Care
The Real Deal About Healing Herbs
Classic Herb Blends
Sweet Stevia
Vinegar the Miracle Cleaner
Herbs to Enhance Romance
Rites of Passage
Skin Care Naturally
Spring Bounty (Wild and Wonderful Weeds)
Menopause Gracefully
Spring Ritual for the Health Conscious

Spring Bounty (Wild and Wonderful Weeds)

Spring rains bring May flowers and, yes, all the weeds that have been dormant all winter. Some of those weeds you are cursing and pulling out of the garden are more nutritious than what you are going to plant. Now I'm not advocating you grow a garden of weeds. What I am saying is that you might want to get better acquainted with them and save some from the weed pile to put in your salad. I have been using chickweed as a ground cover to keep other weeds out of a certain area in the garden. Now I use the chickweed on my dinner table!

Let's start with the ubiquitous dandelion. Nutrients: biotin, calcium, choline, fats, gluten, iron, linolenic acid, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, B1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, E, P, zinc, A, and C. Does it sound like the label on a vitamin bottle? Well, it really is a wild and wonderful weed! In China it is called huang-hua-tii-ting and is considered one of the six most important herbs in Chinese medicine. It is a gross understatement to say it is worth eating in season.
Here are some tips:

  • If you eat dandelions on a regular basis, do not eat other foods high in potassium.
  • Pick leaves before the flower buds form for a less bitter tasting dandelion. They can be blanched and frozen for later use. Those grown in cold weather and in the shade are less bitter. Bacon fat and bits, bread, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and vinegar or lemon juice can be added to cooked dandelions to mask their bitterness.
  • Try making dandelion vinegar with the roots.
  • Steam 10 minutes and add any of the above ingredients.
  • Stir fry.
  • Boil until wilted.

Dandelion and Kidney Beans
(Ciccoria Fagioli)

1 lb dry kidney beans
Can also be made with canned beans.
5 qts water
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup olive oil
½ can stewed tomatoes
3 to 4 lbs dandelion greens
½ tsp black pepper salt to taste

Put 3 qts water in a 6 to 10 qt pan and bring to a boil. Add beans. Brown garlic in oil, then add oil and garlic to beans. Cook until tender. Add tomatoes. In a separate pot, boil 2 qts water. Wash and chop or tear dandelion leaves. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, saving the dandelion liquid to add to tomato juice or drink by itself. Add dandelions to the pot of beans. Add seasonings. Serve with garlic bread. This dish with pasta instead of dandelions is called Pasta Fagioli. You can add the pasta and the dandelions .

Steamed Dandelions with Garlic and Chili

4 to 5 qts dandelion greens
1 cup water
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
garlic, salt, pepper, chili flakes

Clean and chop the dandelions. Steam them in 1 cup water after you have covered them with the olive oil and seasoning.

Dandelion Quiche

3 ½ cups dandelion greens
½ lb mushrooms
9 eggs
½ cup grated Romano cheese
pie shell (optional)
oil and 2 garlic cloves, minced
parsley
pepper

Partially bake the pie crust. Boil the greens until wilted but not completely cooked. Drain, squeeze out liquid, and cut greens into small pieces. Sauté greens and mushrooms in oil and garlic until water is gone. Beat eggs. Season with parsley, cheese, and pepper. Put greens in pie shell or into quiche pan. Pour egg mix over the greens and bake at 325°F until eggs set and a knife blade comes out clean. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

Chickweed is another weed that is very high in vitamins and minerals including biotin, choline, copper, PABA, rutin, sodium, vitamins B6,12, D, and C. Infuse it in olive oil and use for any skin disorder. It is also a good emollient for dry and chapped skin. It is excellent to add to salad.

Cream of Chickweed and Lettuce Soup

1 medium lettuce
A large bunch of chickweed
1 ½ oz butter
2 oz flour
3 cups stock
salt and pepper
cream

Wash and shred the lettuce. Cut off chickweed roots and wash. Chop chickweed and sauté with lettuce in a little butter. Melt the rest of the butter in a separate pan and add flour gradually. Stir in stock. Heat until mix thickens. Season and add cooked vegetables. Stir thoroughly, adding cream to taste.

Chickweed Pancakes

½ lb fresh chickweed leaves
1 ½ cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
2 tsp butter, melted
2 TBS soft butter

Wash chickweed. Place in a pan, cover with water, cover the pan, and place over high heat. Boil rapidly for 2 minutes then plunge into cold water. Drain and pat dry. Combine milk, eggs, flour, salt, and melted butter. When well mixed, stir in chopped chickweed leaves. Fry as you would any other pancakes.