Make a Salad With Edible Weeds in Your Yard Plus a Vinaigrette - Delishably - Food and Drink
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Make a Salad With Edible Weeds in Your Yard Plus a Vinaigrette

Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts, and culture, and sharing that knowledge.

A Salad From Edible Weeds

In the spring, our yards begin to green up and fill in with wonderful foliage.

Some of us attempt to limit the spread of weeds by killing or pulling them. Really, a weed is just another plant that happens to be in the wrong place.

However, I welcome weeds, especially weeds that I can eat. Many plants that we consider to be weeds are, in fact, herbs. They have many culinary as well as medicinal properties.

In my yard, I have quite a few edible weeds. Spring is the best time to make a salad from them, too. The leaves are young and tender. As they get older, they tend to get more bitter-tasting, so it’s best to use young leaves.

Before going out and picking weeds, make 100% sure you know exactly what you are picking. Look at pictures and guidebooks to help you. If there is any doubt, do not pick a plant—better safe than sorry!

Wherever you pick weeds, be certain that no one has used pesticides or herbicides on them.

Violets grow all over my yard.

Violets grow all over my yard.

Violet Is an Edible Weed

The first plant is violet. It only blooms in April or May and its leaves are heart-shaped. The leaves have an almost pepper-like flavor and add zing to a salad. When this plant is blooming, the purple flower petals are great in salads, too. You can also candy the petals and even make jelly with them.

Dandelion Is an Edible Weed

The next plant leaves I will add to my salad are from dandelion. Its jagged leaves are quite distinct. All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves are a bit bitter, but the bitterness seems to fade away when you pair the leaves up with just about anything else.

Dandelion leaves are useful for wine, tea, and even soups.

They typically flower in late spring, and then go to seed.

Dandelion has lots of vitamins, magnesium, iron, and fiber. It also has great medicinal value. Dandelion roots are highly useful, too. Dig them up in the fall and dry them out. They can be used as a coffee substitute when dried and ground up.

Dandelion is a welcome weed in my yard.

Dandelion is a welcome weed in my yard.

Plantain Is an Edible Weed

Another plant that grows all over my yard is plantain. Its leaves are quite similar to spinach and taste like it, too. It’s loaded with B vitamins. Each time you pick the leaves, they just seem to come right back. That’s great because I tend to eat plantain all summer long.

Another really neat thing about plantain is that the leaves can be used on bee stings and other skin irritations.

Plantain grows right in there with all the lawn grass.

Plantain grows right in there with all the lawn grass.

Mint Is an Edible Weed

My last ingredient from the yard is mint. Some consider this a weed due to its rampant spreading habit. It adds a wonderful touch to any salad and since it’s already in my yard, it’s easy to collect for salad.

Mint is a digestive stimulant and helps to relieve bloating or gas. Many restaurants traditionally serve dessert with a spring of mint for this reason—historically, anyway.

After I get back inside, I know I also want to add a bit of spinach and onion to complete the “plant” part of the salad. I just can’t resist putting lots of wonderful greens into an already yummy dish.

Mint grows like crazy! I keep mine in a container to help "contain" it.

Mint grows like crazy! I keep mine in a container to help "contain" it.

Ingredients

  • Collect enough greens outside in your yard to fill a large bowl
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • ¼ – ½ cup onion, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup roasted nuts, I used roasted, honeyed almonds

Instructions

  1. Shred all the leaves then wash (it’s easier to shred the leaves if they’re not wet)
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well

Make the Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp acai pomegranate red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper or cracked peppercorn
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Mix all ingredients together.  Let them sit for a time to let the flavors infuse into the vinegar and oil.

Mix all ingredients together. Let them sit for a time to let the flavors infuse into the vinegar and oil.

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients into a measuring cup. Mix well. Let the vinaigrette sit for 20 minutes or more to let the flavors infuse together.
  2. The salad is packed with wonderful nutrients and the dressing adds a touch of sweetness as a contrast to the slightly bitter leaves in the salad. The flavors come together in an explosion of wonderfully sweet, tart, and tangy bliss. The flax seeds and almonds add texture as well as Omega-3 acids and Vitamin E.
  3. Keep in mind that if you've never tried this before, the salad greens will definitely be more "fibrous" than you may be accustomed to eating. This salad also produces quite a tart flavor because of the different types of leaves coupled with the vinaigrette.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

Comments

M on November 18, 2018:

Extremely wonderful article and I think all people would love to know that plants that are called weeds are actually delicious food that doesn't cost anything. Thank you extremely for the article and for everything that you do. -- M

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 20, 2013:

Stefi - thank you! I need to get back into doing this more - I've been so busy lately I've neglected my poor weeds, haha.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Stefi/zia Ste on September 12, 2013:

Eating weeds...my passion! I spent my holiliday during the last 10 days in El Hierro and Tenerife island and I'm so happy to have discovered your interesting news on "Tenerife weekly". I learned to regognised sea Grape ( unfortunately it wasn't mature yet!) I knew that the green pads of prickly pears are edible but I never used them...I really need to take some infos about how to treat them and cook!

In El HierroI've been pleased to teach to Alejandro ,a fruits ' grower, ,how to recognise and cook in Purlsane ( Portulaca Olearacea) considered a mere weed! It's delicious instead,fresh as a salad, stir fried or cook as spinach but also for soup and stew. I use it mixed fresh with steamed potatoes , to mix with other edible weeds for a fresh and healty omelette or to create a "sauce" for special "gnocchi". I'm italian(sorry for my English!) ...I like to cook ...edible plants too! You can have a look on the web www.exploratoridelladomenica.it where I'm zia Ste.I have a diary but also a page of "green" recipes and another one where I write about wild edible plants. I'll do this web with a group of friends only for passion...talking about what you can do , see, taste , and discover in a little part of our region, near the beautiful Como lake.

I'll continue to follow you on the hubpages...to learn more and more! Alla prossima!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 08, 2012:

LittleFairy - mint and dandelion are delicious! :) Thanks for stopping by!

LittleFairy on October 08, 2012:

I love mint and dandelion too, their health benefits are many, thanks for sharing this info with others :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 25, 2012:

tillsontitan - hehe, I am still figuring out the new layout and how to share properly and vote properly, too. Ah, well, I'm glad you liked this. Thank you so much for your feedback. :) Hubhugs!

Mary Craig from New York on May 25, 2012:

I had no idea mint was a weed! This was a very useful hub and your pictures and descriptions are superb. This may make more people aware of the 'goodies' around them. Would have voted up if there was a button but voted useful and interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 21, 2012:

mythicalstorm273 - hi there! Great to see you. I immediately thought, ok, what about strawberries with some mint leaves? I love my leaves and I love my fruit. But, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this hub. Thanks so much for stopping by my way again - I appreciate you and thanks for your awesome feedback. Hubhugs!

mythicalstorm273 on May 21, 2012:

This was so great! I do not like salads but I always loved the idea of eating the food right outside our doors. I used to eat some wild plants while I was growing up and always enjoyed it... this is one thing I am saving! Amazing hub with so much information. Really really great job!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 21, 2012:

Angelo - hello there! Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I love looking for edible weeds - just be sure you're 100% sure of what you're picking, because sometimes the look-a-likes can be REALLY bad for you. But, enjoy your dandelions, mint and violet! :D Cheers!

Angelo52 on May 21, 2012:

Great article. Looks like I'll have to take a closer look at the plants growing around my villa and see if there are any of these "weeds" growing around here.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 21, 2012:

Rusticliving - aww, thank you so much for stopping by!! I always enjoy seeing you 'round the hub. :D I only recently learned about dandelions (in the last few years) but I can't get enough of their awesome-ness. :D Thanks so much for your feedback and votes. Hubhugs!

Liz Rayen from California on May 20, 2012:

I love this hub. I learned to eat dandelions and Mint from my grandmother. She had them in her garden all year round. Every morning she would go out and pick a mint leaf and chew on it while she tended her garden. Very nice indeed! Great Hub my dear! Happy Birthday! voted up and sharing.Lisa

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 18, 2012:

Cara - hellooo! Great to see you! I'm glad you stopped by. I can't wait to see what your daughter thinks of eating "weeds" - hehe. I want to try sauteeing them with olive oil and garlic - that sounds scrumptious!! Hubhugs!

cardelean from Michigan on May 18, 2012:

I was just telling my daughter this afternoon that I used to go with my grandma to pick dandelion greens that she would cook us for dinner. She would sautee them, probably with olive oil and garlic since she's Italian. Grace didn't really believe me but I think we'll have to do some picking and cooking soon! Thanks for the great guide.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 15, 2012:

Vicki - hehe, I dunno, I love studying herbs and I noticed that many "herbs" are considered weeds. Soo, I just put two and two together, made sure I positively identified everything and started making salads. Hehehe. It's fun to be able to walk out to your yard and be able to just pick things. Hubhugs!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on May 15, 2012:

You're amazing, CC! How did you learn all of this? Dandelions can be a substitute for coffee? Cool stuff. Great hub. Great photos. Great job! Many votes!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 09, 2012:

Pamela99 - hehe, thanks for stopping by! It's such fun hunting for edible weeds. Just be sure you know EXACTLY what you are picking before you do so to ensure you don't pick the wrong (or a poisonous) weed. It's such a neat feeling, though, to go out to your yard, find wild things growing and make a salad. :)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 08, 2012:

This is so interesting. I never would have thought of eating weeds, except for the mint. A very useful hub and it will make me take a look at what's growing in my yard.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 05, 2012:

Levertis - haha, when I first moved in, I tried to kill these weeds, too. That was five years ago and I didn't know better. Then, I got curious. I'd heard the phrase, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" with regard to weeds. I had read an article about plantain being edible and my curiosity started rolling. I went on a hunt for all the edibles in my yard. So, for a few years now, I can't wait for spring when I can just pick salad after salad from my yard with no effort on cultivation on my part. Hehe, I just head out the door and go pickin'. :) (HUGS)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 05, 2012:

Natashalh - mmmm, mint. I love chewing on the leaves after a "garlicky" meal. Hehe. The plantains are cool, too, because if you ever get a bee sting, you can use a rock to crush the leaves and gently place on the skin - it will help alleviate swelling and pain. Who knew? Thanks for stopping by. (HUGS)

Levertis Steele from Southern Clime on May 05, 2012:

What? This HubPages is awesome! I have all of these weeds in my yard. I had no idea that plantain--didn't know the name--and violets were edible. I am beside myself with awe. We have cut them and even tried to kill them permanently for years. I planted the same variety of mint you show here, and it invaded my whole flower bed like strawberry plants. I cannot tame it, although I occasionaly add a few leaves to lemonade and tea.

Thanks for the tip. My yard is full of food (laughable)! Now, I will search for more edible plants I never knew. We never know when we may need this knowledge, and more, for reasons of survival.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 05, 2012:

anglnwu - Hehe, I only learned about using weeds in salads a couple years ago, but once I did, I was convinced that it could be a really neat way for people to add greens to their diets without too much fuss. :) Thanks so much for stopping by. (HUGS)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 05, 2012:

Tammy - OMG - I HAVE to learn how to make dandelion wine! Oh what a hub that could be!! I'm from Colorado originally (aren't you??) and so I've had to spend some time learning southern foliage. But once I did, I thought, wow. This is so fun. :) (HUGS)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 05, 2012:

Patty - hello, friend! Thanks for stopping by. I had some of this salad again last night. It really is so fun to go out to the yard - both the garden and the yard and just pick things to eat for dinner. :) Some of it I grow on purpose and some of it is completely wild. Such fun. Cheers!

Natasha from Hawaii on May 05, 2012:

I love mint, and it sometimes really is a weed! I had no idea that plantains are edible. In fact, I didn't even know what they were called, even though I've played with the leaves by pulling out the threads for a very long time.

Thanks for the useful info! Voted useful and interesting.

anglnwu on May 04, 2012:

This is so awesome. Turn weeds into a healthy salads--that's truly genius. I recognise some of the weeds. I know Dandelion, mint and plaintain can be eaten but will be looking out for the rest. Thanks for the great read.

Tammy from North Carolina on May 04, 2012:

I wish there was a special accolade for you for all the wonderful things you do for the Green Cause and the planet. Growing up in Pennsylvania, every one ate dandilions. My father made home made dandilion wine and that was pretty good. We always had mint and our own lettuce growing in the garden. I don't know enough about Southern foliage to dig in. Great hub!!

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 04, 2012:

This is a well written Hub with good tips for recognizing edible weeds. I had no idea that violet leaves are edible. I've shared this one.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 03, 2012:

alocsin - the best thing you can do to avoid any kind of poisonous weeds are getting field guides or picture guides to help you identify the correct weeds. Before ever getting a single plant out of the yard, it's extremely important to be 100% certain that you know what you are picking. Great to see you!! Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on May 02, 2012:

This is an unusual and money-saving idea. But how do you know what weeds are poisonous and what are edible if you've never done this before? Voting this Up and Useful.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 30, 2012:

Claudia - aw, your comment really made me smile. You have truly brightened my day. Thank you so much for your feedback. I use that vinaigrette recipe for lots of salads I make - I just can't resist. :D Thanks again, (HUGS)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 30, 2012:

Movie Master - great to see you! I hope you are well. Thank you for coming by and offering your feedback. I appreciate you. :) Have a wonderful day. (HUGS)

Claudia Tello from Mexico on April 30, 2012:

This is a great idea for a Hub and I love the way you carried it out. Original content, lovely photographs and beautifully formatted. The whole thing just exudes life! You recipe sounds yummy as well.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on April 30, 2012:

What an awesome hub! it's so unique and interesting - thank you and voted up!

Best wishes Lesley

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 30, 2012:

Ally - thanks for that info. I appreciate your feeback and for stopping by. :)

Ally on April 29, 2012:

Edible weeds and survival foods are great. An amazing reference guide book on these type of plants and herbs is by Isabell Shipards "How can I be prepared with self sufficiency and survival foods?"

Shipards Herb Farm, Nambour Qld Australia

www.herbsarespecial.com.au

www.herbs-to-use.com

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 29, 2012:

LPogue - that's great!! Perhaps you could encourage those plants in a little patch and mow around that? Dunno - laws vary from place to place and that might not be feasible. However, it's really neat that you're able to identify these plants. Yum!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 29, 2012:

novascotiamiss - thanks for stopping by. :) You're absolutely right: you want to be absolutely sure of what you are picking so that you stay safe. I appreciate your feedback. :) Cheers!

LPogue from Missouri on April 29, 2012:

I have found plantain, dandelion and wild lettuce in my yard so far. Almost makes me wish we didn't have to mow.

Novascotiamiss from Nova Scotia, Canada on April 29, 2012:

Very interesting hub. I wish all the weeds growing in our garden were edible.... Unfortunately most of them are poisonous, so as you mention, please make sure that you know what you pick before eating it.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 29, 2012:

teaches - hey, friend! Your mom sounds like a wise woman. I'm going to have to find out more about that "horse weed". Where I live used to be a farm and there are all sorts of interesting things growing around here. I'll bet there's even horse weed. Thanks for coming by. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 29, 2012:

Tara - I actually got the idea to write this after reading in Mother Earth news how there was a line of people going to the soup kitchen, and lo and behold, there were clumps of plantain all around them. Then I thought, well, why not? How many more plants are right under our noses that we can eat and not have to pay for? Hehe. I'm always looking to save a buck. Ha! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 29, 2012:

Deborah - Wow! A dandelion festival and cook-off? Who knew!? But, that's pretty awesome. Yummy - I would love to interview a wild foods expert. That is one area that I really want to learn more about so that I can impress my friends when hiking. Heheh. Just kidding. I really do want to know more, though. :) (HUGS)

Dianna Mendez on April 29, 2012:

My mother knew what weeds were edible and taught us to look for them. We used to make a great breakfast dish from a weed she would call "horse weed". Whenever it started to grow, we would pick it and bring it home so she could make the dish. Your advice is key, make sure you wash it first and make sure it is free of pesticides. Voted up and useful.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 29, 2012:

RealHousewife - HAHAHA. You are funny. :D I hope it wasn't a bad batch of dandelions. Yuck! They do taste really bitter by themselves, though. You usually need to put them with something else to tone it down. Thanks for the votes and shares. Great to see you. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 29, 2012:

Daisy - thanks for stopping by. :) Have fun looking at those weeds - and make sure you know exactly what they are before eating. Hehe. But, yes, some of them are wonderful herbs. (HUGS)

Tara McNerney from Washington, DC on April 29, 2012:

This was really a great and useful article! Buying fresh greens at the store can get expensive - I want to learn to identify and use the stuff growing right in my yard that may have even more nutrition!

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on April 29, 2012:

Interesting article. I recently wrote an article about dandelions for my healthy food column on Examiner and interviewed an edible wild foods expert. He gave me all sorts of recipes for cooking with dandelions. There's also a yearly dandelion festival in Ohio in May with a dandelion cookoff. My expert has been a judge in past years. Who knew?

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on April 29, 2012:

We got all kinds o weed growing in Missouri! You can eat it, smoke it or have a bale of hay! Hahaha just kidding:) I have tried edible weeds before and ifmyou smother it with dressing - it's great:) dandelions are nasty to me but maybe I ate a bad batch!

Excellent hub and I'm sharing:) fun - great photos and original!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on April 29, 2012:

Cyndi,

What a fascinating article! Thanks for publishing it. I'm going to have to examine the weeds in my backyard more closely. I never thought that some of them might be herbs.