Backyard Salad

Green salad made from foraged foods
Greens galore, if you know what to look for!

Foraged from the backyard for my dinner, and here is the result! – Shantell

Lettuce, peas, nasturtiums, viper bugloss, white clover, dandelion, cleavers, wood sorrel, tomato, cucumber, chives, lambsquarters, and purslane. Chop up all ingredients and serve with dressing.

Nasturtiums look like this:

Nasturtiums

All parts of the nasturtiums are edible, and they have a slightly peppery taste like watercress. They are high in vitamin C, and contain the highest amount of lutein found in any plant (in the yellow flower part). The unripe seed can be used in the place of capers in dressings. It is said these plants are useful as a herbal antibiotic, and can be useful for urinary tract and respiratory infections. Best grown in your garden near brassicas, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, or radish as they help trap aphids and repel squash bugs.

Viper bugloss

While parts of viper bugloss are edible, it is a member of the nightshade family and can be toxic if mishandled, especially the leaves. They can cause sweating and can be a dangerous diuretic if improperly ingested. It is recommended not to handle this plant unless you have proper education from an Elder.

Cleavers, aka goosegrass, sticky weed, velcro plant

The stem and leaves of cleavers are edible before the plant flowers. The fruit of the cleaver can be dried and roasted and used as a slightly less- caffeinated substitute for coffee.

Better cooked than raw, cleavers can be put in salads if finely chopped and are enjoyable.

Historically used in poultices for burns, or brewed into a tea that is said to aid the lymphatic system.

Wood sorrel looks like clover with heart shaped leaves

Wood sorrel is a fairly easily and commonly misidentified plant that is found in most yards. It is often mistaken for clovers, but wood sorrel has more heart-shaped leaves. The leaves also close up at night. The leaves, flowers, and seed pods are all edible and have a tangy, slightly citrus taste. Can be brewed into a tea, and is often used as a diuretic, to alleviate mouth sores or ulcers, cramps, fever, nausea, and to prevent thirst. High in vitamin C and oxalic acid, wood sorrel should be consumed in moderation, especially by those with kidney problems.

Purslane is commonly found in many gardens

Purslane, when eaten raw, has a slightly sour and salty taste. The stems, leaves, and flower buds are all edible and it goes well in soups, cooked similarly to spinach.

Purslane makes an excellent ground cover to protect the soil, trap moisture, and prevent weeds, and is extremely high in vitamin E. Purslane does look similar to spurge to an untrained eye, so be careful when foraging.

Lambsquarters or pigweed

Lambsquarters is another commonly found “weed” in many gardens that is extremely high in vitamins A, C, and has a lot of B2, calcium, and manganese. The leaves and young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, and the seeds can be used like quinoa.

Please be extremely careful when foraging or eating any plants that you haven’t independently identified, as they can potentially be toxic if prepared incorrectly or misidentified.

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