The name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth, a reference to the jagged-edged leaves of this noteworthy weed that grows both wild and cultivated. The bright green leaves have a slightly bitter, tangy flavor that adds interest to salads. They can also be cooked like spinach. The roots can be eaten as vegetables or roasted and ground to make root coffee.
Though they’re available until winter in some states, the best, most tender dandelion greens are found in early spring, before the plant begins to flower. Look for bright-green, tender-crisp leaves; avoid those with yellowed or wilted tips. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, up to 5 days. Wash thoroughly before using. Dandelion greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, iron and calcium.