Make a Salad With Edible Weeds In Your Yard Plus a Vinaigrette
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.
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.
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 to 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.
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.
- 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
- Shred all the leaves then wash (it’s easier to shred the leaves if they’re not wet)
- Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well
Make the Vinaigrette
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
Put all ingredients into a measuring cup. Mix well. Let vinaigrette sit for 20 minutes or more to let the flavors infuse together.
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 wonderful sweet, tart and tangy bliss. The flax seeds and almonds add texture as well as Omega-3 acids and Vitamin E.
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
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