Gourmet Food Source
Loved and loathed alike, this perennial herb is probably better known for its ability to find its way onto our lawns than as its use as a valuable salad herb. Found throughout the British Isles, its bright yellow flowers light up roadside pathways and grass fields through April to late summer.
Taken from the French name for lionís tooth (dent de lion) its use as a food dates back to the tenth century and later studies showed it to be rich in vitamins A, B, C and D.
Dandelionís produce a long white root and, like chicory of which it is a relative is used as a substitute for coffee. The flowering heads are best known for their use in homemade dandelion wine whilst the blanched leaves make a refreshing beer.
The leaves can also be used as a vegetable in the same way as spinach but they must be picked whilst still young and small as they can be quite bitter, especially those from the wild plants.
The French make a wonderful salad of dandelion leaves tossed with bacon and croutons in a vinaigrette and flavoured with chopped herbs such as borage, parsley, garlic and chives called Ďsalade de pissenlití.
Content and picture © Miles Collins