Wednesday, April 21, 2010

urban salad!

this time of year there are so many hearty and tasty salad fixins' growing right there in your own yard! i thought i'd post a few of them with photos so that you can make your own delicious yard salad. as always, make sure you have absolutely 100% correctly identified these plants before you ingest! and obviously don't pick where the dog walks! there are certainly other wild greens to add to this list, but this is what you should find right now if you live in the midwest/east coast! become a forager today and remember to do it ecologically and to thank the plants as you harvest...

chickweed -- one of my favorites! to harvest this lady, just give her a little hair cut, cutting the top 1 to 2 inches off the plant. it usually grows in stands, so you should be able to get a nice bunch. the further down you go, the more stringy and chewy the plant will get, so stick with the tender tops. continue to harvest until the plant starts to flower.

dandelion -- such a great nourishing plant... especially for your liver. the bitter taste can turn people off, but right now in the spring, this gal has a sweeter and milder flavor. she has a few lookalikes, but one way i identify her is to look at the underside of the leaf and check the main vein to make sure it is smooth. dandy shaves her legs, while other similar looking plants will probably have a soft fuzzy hair along the vein. harvest a few of her leaves and chop them into tiny bits for a subtle flavor in your salad.

garlic mustard or alliaria petiolata -- this is another one of my favs! if you love a very, very mellow garlic flavor then this gal's for you. this plant grows everywhere and is considered invasive by most people. pesky or not, it's delicious! harvest the leaves. this gal is a biennial so her first year leaves are tender and mild. second year leaves tend to be a bit more bitter -- especially as the season progresses, so harvest her now before she gets too strong because right now the leaves are still delicious. garlic mustard can also be cooked like spinach or other dark leafy greens and it's super good this way too!

violet -- a nice hearty green and great salad filler (i.e. use lots of the leaves to make your salad big). super mellow flavor. this gal is so nice i wrote an entire blog about her last month. check it out. use the leaves in the body of the salad and use the flowers as a beautiful garnish on the top of the salad. both the leaves and flowers are totally edible!

ground ivy or glechoma hederacea -- also wrote about this little lady last month, so check that out. use the flowers to garnish the top of your salad and use the leaves in the salad to add a mild mint flavor. work with the top inch or so of the plant and harvest from there! now is the time to harvest this gal.

tulips -- ever tried a petal from a tulip flower... so delicious. use the beautiful spring colors of the tulip flower to garnish and color your salad! harvest the flower and then pull the petals for your salad and of course thank miss tulip (and all your urban salad fixins') very much for letting you pick her! she will be happy to live on inside of you, giving you life and vitality!

wild ramps or leeks -- one last gal i would be remiss if i didn't mention... the wild ramp. go find her today. she grows in damp areas in the woods, usually near a pond or swamp. you're going to need a digging tool to pop this lady out of the ground, because what you want to harvest is the scallion-like bulb. you could definitely add this to your salad for a little leek/onion flavor, but what i really like to do with wild ramps is make a potato soup with them and add them to my eggs, although there are millions more things you can make with them as well. as you harvest, i recommend cutting off the roots from the bottom of the ramp and putting them back in the ground where you are harvesting, that way there will be even more wild ramps next year!!!

i would love to hear how your wild salad turns out. leave a comment... ask a question and as alway, nourish your body with the nature around you.



  1. this is such an amazing post and i LOVE the idea of foraging in your own backyard for dinner! i am not sure how many of these grow here in northern cali but i do know my crazy overgrown yard is full of dandelion! i think about trying to make dandelion wine all the time, but it seems like quite a task. and most of all, i love the way you talk about these treasures of earth as ladies! so fitting and so respectful and lovely. your writing style and content is inspiring and refreshing, love it!

  2. i know it's weeks after you posted your comment, but my thought about calling things a she is... why not assume it's female first! xo