The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each grain, vegetable, meat, fruit, and spice has unique properties that can be harnessed to help us achieve and maintain balance in our bodies.
Our recipes seek to incorporate some of the age-old principles of Chinese medicine into the culinary practices more familiar to the West.
Dandelions are a green that are now available in some health food markets and ever plentiful in our own yards. Yes, you can pick and eat these “weeds” (as long as they haven’t been sprayed with a herbicide). They are nutritious and also happen to be a commonly used herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory.
The benefits of dandelion are many: it is said to “clear heat, detoxify, and drain dampness” (by acting as a diuretic). As a result, it is commonly used for skin infections, such as acne, boils, infected hair follicles, etc., where there is local redness, swelling, and pus formation.
Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine would also use it for internal infections, such as an infected gallbladder, urinary tract infections, mastitis, and so on. If you happen to have signs of internal heat, dandelion is a great way to regain some balance.
A Salad that Combines East, West, and "Middle Burner" Principles
On their own, dandelions are bitter (more specifically, according to Chinese medicine classifications, they are “bitter and cold,” but also a little “sweet”). To soften that bitterness, I suggest cooking them in a refreshing, Italian style blend of garlic, raisins, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. This is also consistent with the "Middle Burner" of keeping our digestive fire warm (learn more about The Middle Burner Diet by DAO Labs here).
Since “cold” foods can be difficult to digest, I use the warming properties of vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes for balance.
I have also added walnuts and raisins to the recipe for a nice, sweet crunchy experience. Both are considered "supplementing foods" and therefore moderate the draining effects of the dandelion greens. In China, most laypersons claim that walnuts boost the brain because their shape reminds them of the cortical folding found in the brain cortex.
Dandelion Greens with Walnuts, Raisins, Chili Flake and Sherry Vinegar
Prep Time / Cook Time
5 minutes / 5 minutes
- 3 Cups Dandelion Greens
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large Clove Garlic
- 1/8 Teaspoon Crushed Red Chili Flake
- 1/8 Cup Golden Raisins
- ¼ Cup Walnuts
- ¼ Cup Water
- 2 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
- ½ Lemon (Juiced)
- Sea Salt
- Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Chop dandelion greens into two inch pieces.
Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan on medium heat add olive oil, sliced garlic, red chili flake and golden raisins until garlic begins to brown then add dandelion greens, salt, pepper and toss a bit, add water and allow to cook a minute. This will blanch/cook away some of the bitterness in the greens. Now add the vinegar and lemon juice and cook until most of liquid is reduced and greens are cooked down.