Foraging on Shore Front Parkway


I was walking back from the YMCA last week and noticed the dandelions have flowered. Time to forage in the great wilderness, or as I like to call it, the median of Shore Front Parkway. I know what you’re thinking, “Gross!! Dogs pee there!!” Whatever. I bet gophers pee on asparagus and kale in the organic farms. Either way, I still feel natural, locally grown foods are healthier for us than the pre-packaged produce in the supermarket. God knows what they spray on those greens! Besides, germs make your immune system stronger. So, grabbing some dandelions off the ground in Queens and giving them a toss in olive oil isn’t a big deal for me. And it’s free food!

Italian immigrants over 50 years ago would gather dandelion greens and use them in many of their meals. Fran Honan, A Glorified Tomato contributor, recalls her grandparents did just that. “We scavenged for food. It was either spring or fall when my grandfather would wander the streets of Brooklyn, looking for empty lots with overgrown weeds. He was looking for ‘gardunia’ and dandelions.” My father told me a similar story of his grandmother doing the same near Hell’s Kitchen during the Great Depression era. Dandelions are known as a “famine food” – easily available, nutritious and free.


The best time to harvest the plant is now, when the sprouts are young. The larger mature leaves are tough to chew. I know this because when I tried foraging for dandelions in middle summer a few years ago, they tasted friggin’ gross. However, when they’re picked young, dandelion leaves have a bitter but pleasant taste, a stronger flavor than arugula but similar. The plant is low in calories and high in calcium and vitamins A and C. The whole plant is edible in fact, roots leaves and the flower, but it’s most common to use the leaves and garnish with the bright yellow flower.



I was hungry after the gym so I decided to make a sandwich with my freshly picked (and washed) greens. I toasted panella bread and topped it with tomato, fresh mozzarella and onion. I squeezed lemon juice over the leaves and added olive oil and a little white vinegar. For seasoning I used a shake of  salt/pepper and garlic powder. So simple! And tasty!

If you want to give dandelion greens a shot, I’ve posted three delicious recipes on the blog for you to try out! Find them here.

tagged in garden, gardening