Dandelions were first brought to this country by European colonists who used them to heal maladies of the liver, gall bladder, kidney and stomach. Once called “pissabed”, the dandelion has diuretic properties that also make it an excellent blood-purifier.
Nicholas Culpeper in his 1653 work The Complete Herbal, praises the dandelion for its “opening and cleansing quality” claiming it is “very effectual for the obstructions of the liver, gall and spleen.”
According to other ancient herbalists, the dandelions cleansing capacity is also beneficial for “the sluggishness associated with heat and excess”, or what the Chinese traditional medicine practitioners would call “fire poison”.
Dandelion leaves are best harvested young, before the flower begins to bloom in order to avoid bitterness. Dandelion leaves are highly nutritious, being one of the richest sources of beta-carotene among plants, providing ample amounts of Vitamins B, C, and D, and significantly more calcium and iron than spinach.
To enjoy them at your table simply gather the young leaves and quickly toss them in a pan with a bit of good olive oil, sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon. You could also add a splash of aged balsamic vinegar if available. Prepared this way they make a wonderful accompaniment to a frittata composed of potatoes, onions, olives, herbs, etc.