My hubby remembers picking the leaves of this plant and selling them to the the hardware store man. The hardware store man also bought and resold pecans, black walnuts, and animal pelts in the mountain foothills town where hubby grew up. What is it and how could it be used in cooking or folk medicine? It is commonly found in fields and neglected lawns.
Plantain has medicinal qualities and is considered a beneficial herb by herbalists and home medicine makers. For example: a bee stings you, if you aren't allergic, get the stinger out then crush a plantain leaf and rub it one the sting. The sting will stop. it works the same for stinging nettle and insect bites. The leaves are included in many herbal healing and soothing salves - along with comfrey. Many more uses too. The young leaves are edible and can be cooked and eaten, much like chard and spinach. A dash of Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids (tastes like soy sauce without the LOADS of high sodium) and some white rice or malt vinegar and yum! Just make sure they haven't been sprayed with toxic pesticides, herbicides or lawn fertilizers. Dandelion is also food and medicine :)
See an article by Sharon Brown, (Sharran) here on DG, about how her aunt used plantain to treat insect bites, with a salve made from plantain, stomach distress with a tea made from the plant as well as the plant could be cooked and eaten like spinach or chopped fresh in a salad. Click on "information" tab, then type plantain in the search box. A list of articles will show up. Look down the list for Sharran's name and click on the article.
FYI, the live growing plant is host for the Buckeye butterfly.