The Rapidian

Eat the Weeds: ReWilding the Spring Salad

Head out this Memorial Day weekend and try something new for the Picnic Basket: A re-wilded salad
Re-wilded Spring Salad: Dandelion, Violet leaf, Wild Chives, White Violet flowers & Parsley

Re-wilded Spring Salad: Dandelion, Violet leaf, Wild Chives, White Violet flowers & Parsley /Lisa Rose Starner

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Happy Dandelions ready for snacking.

Happy Dandelions ready for snacking. /Lisa Rose Starner

Violet flowers and leaves harvested from Starner's gardens.

Violet flowers and leaves harvested from Starner's gardens. /Lisa Rose Starner

While it was a cool start to spring, the past two weeks of warm, wet weather have the plants around us springing from the earth. You may have taken particular notice if you are a lawn-mower -- the grass is growing tall and so are many of the lawn "weeds" like Dandelion and Violet.  

It's a popular time for many to turn to a lawn care specialist for a broad spectrum weed killer to smooth out the turf, but I say, HEY! You can eat that! 

So, instead of paying for the perfect (inedible) lawn, save a bit of money and learn to enjoy these weeds at the dinner table!  

Re-wilded Spring Salad

Violet leaves and flowers (Viola spp), dandelion greens and wild chives mix together well for this flavorful, spring salad of bitter greens. While the wild chives can be found in the wooded areas near your home, you may find these greens as close as your own lawn.

Assuming you haven’t sprayed your yard with chemicals, these plants can be eaten and are highly nutritious. Don’t be scared off by the bitterness found in the Dandelion - the greens are not only packed with Vitamin C, but the bitterness is exactly what our Americanized diets of salt and sweet need.  

Bitter greens like Dandelion help the stomach in digestion by increasing bile production and it’s a good for the liver, too. We need to integrate more of these flavors back into our processed diets.  

The violet greens do not offer the strong bitter profile the dandelion green does - it is a sweeter green, with a bright flavor similar to purslane, but not as sour. It, too, is packed with Vitamin C.  

The violet flowers - both white and purple are both beautiful and add a splash of color to the salad.  They are slightly sweet and can be ever so peppery.  Dandelion flowers, too are delicious to add into the mix. And they are very fun for children to pick with their little hands.   

To harvest - Simply pick the leaves and flowers by hand, and trim the chives with scissors. To ensure maximum sweetness in the dandelion greens, harvest in the cool morning before it gets too hot (same rules apply for all salad greens) and choose the smaller, tender leavers before the plant goes to flower. 

Rinse the greens in a water bath and gently dry in a tea towel if you don’t have a salad spinner. Don’t wash the flowers - they will wilt. Top the wild harvested greenery with a zingy lemon-balsamic vinaigrette -- the sour of the lemon complements the bitter nicely. And, if the bitter is too strong at first, a handful of parsley (especially from self-seeding volunteers in the garden) helps offset the bitter of the Dandelion. 

Perfect alone or topped with anchovies for that added flavor and protein. Pairs well with a crisp white wine. I might reach for a local Michigan Riesling.  

So glad for the weeds. This has been a staple salad in our house since April. Delicious, nutrient dense and free local, organic food. 

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