You may curse dandelions, but they are among a group of long-standing medicinal and culinary herbs. Rich in lecithin, beta carotene, and potassium, dandelion leaves are also a traditional spring tonic for their diuretic effects as well as their benefits to the liver and digestive systems. Fresh, young, spring leaves are a useful addition to salads, soups, and braised greens. This recipe is adapted from The Healing Herbs Cookbook, by Pat Crocker. Always be sure to use dandelion leaves that have not been treated with pesticides.
1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, shredded cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dandelion leaves
2 tablespoons dandelion petals (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
Place yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl. Allow to drain for 3 hours, or until yogurt is reduced by about half.
Place shredded cucumber in a strainer and let stand for 30 minutes. Combine drained yogurt and cucumber with feta cheese, chives, dandelion leaves and petals, and garlic. Combine well.
If desired, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve as a dip with fresh carrot and celery sticks or as a topping on baked potatoes.
Makes about 1 cup.
With tens of thousands of gardening books available, my primary advice is not to worry so much about which one you choose but just make sure you take the time to read at least one during National Gardening Month in April. In particular, there is a wealth of books that, for lack of a better term, might be labled as inspirational reading about gardening. These in particular make good bedtime reading. One of my favorite bedside books is not so much inspirational as entertaining. The Armchair Book of the Garden, by Dr. D. G. Hessayon (Acacia Press, 1995; $21.95) is written from an Englishman's perspective, but it is so filled with the most random and arcane garden topics (each one only about a page long) as to be an utter delight.