Spring Fever: Forage For Salads

Spring Fever: Forage For Salads

Smile its springtime, the perfect time to forage for salads

Forage for salads now that nature has awoken from her restful state. Fresh, young, bursting forth with energy, and goodness, she shares all this new vigour, unselfishly with all of us.  The above photo is a salad of young hawthorn leaves, dandelion leaves and flowers, three corner garlic flowers and stems and a pretty blue perry winkle flower, just for show only, it has medical properties, but is not recommended as a food source, despite some sources quoting it as edible, so have used this as an example of caution, the internet is not always a reliable source of information, as you are learning, cross reference until you are proficient and if in doubt leave out.

Forage for salads - A wild relationship

Bramble shoots

Those tangled thorny brambles, of which there are over 320 varieties, provide at this time of year, lovely young buds/shoots that add a wonderful, slightly nutty crunch to spring salads, you will do no harm, picking a few, and ideal if you live in an urban setting, as it grows out of reach of the doggy walks, a good clean source of wild goodness, explore the back lanes, abandoned sites, the fringes and suburbs. Brambles are what I call pioneer plants, they are tough, resilient, bringing life to inhospitable places, I am sure that life force is reflected in its nutritional content.

Forage for salads - A wild relationship

Red Valerian-Centranthus ruber

The above photo is taken on a piece of waste ground, it shows Red Valerian, which loves growing in cracks of walls, through asphalt and concrete, it enjoys the warmth of the thermal mass provided by the hard surfaces, very prolific in South Devon, the young green tips are an excellent salad ingredient and again one, of what I would call a pioneer species, strong, resilient, bringing life to, and reclaiming man made environments for nature.

Forage for salads - A wild relationship

Oh so pretty salad- lime tree leaves, violets, primrose flowers, three corner garlic flowers.

Nature holds me in eternal fascination, a love that has been cultivated and ripens daily, an infatuation that I feel deep in my being, it is so strong that it is a physical feeling, as well as an emotional fellowship, and I will confess here, that I am highly sensitive to her or his well being, I mind not what term is used, providing it comes with respect.  Like all good and authentic relationships, with those we love, a strong desire exists not to see her abused or taken for granted. First and foremost, we must learn to respect her being, before plucking a single stem, its what is right in human relationships and must be re-extended to encompass all the living world and mineral world, I used the word re-extend as that knowledge was and is an integral part of our being, its still in our DNA, just got to wake it up and become reacquainted.

Forage for salads - A wild relationship

Wild salad, jacket potato and home made hummus.

Forage for salads and get all that organic goodness for free

Tiny budget, luxurious, healthy and delicious food, I feel quite frustrated when I hear the mantra that healthy is expensive, the above meal was the cost of a potato, the hummus, home-made from a can of chickpeas and a tablespoon of tahini,  wild garlic leaves and olive oil, it made enough for 4 further meals, sand which fillings and so on. A rough cost of the above meal is 55 pence and that could be reduced further, I buy organic when I can, but if the pennies are really tight, there are some very good budget prices on pulses. The salad is priceless, when you forage for salads, nature does not deal in currency, rich or poor, human or critter, no favouritism is shown, just generosity and abundance, when treated well. The above salad  contains lime leaves, primrose flowers, violet flowers, dandelion petals, three corner garlic flowers, and a yummy salad dressing.

Forage for salads - A wild relationship

Wild fennel salad with wild cleaver dressing.

In regards to salad dressing, choose to match your bounty, you will get a feel for what works well with your core ingredients. A good staple for early spring bitter herbs is an olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, pomegranate molasses (optional) and maple or agave syrup dressing, to counter act the bitter, but wonderfully cleansing tonic properties of the early leaves, plus salt to taste. Above is a small bowl of juiced cleavers, with olive oil, lemon juice and salt/pepper, bursting with goodness, made with an electric juicer from a charity shop, bought for a fiver, it went well with the potato, tomato salad and wild fennel salad. I have a local herbalist to thank for this recipe tip.

Forage for salads - A wild relationship

Carrot and oregan grape flower salad.

Creamy dressings are also good, I veganise all my food, so will use soya yoghurt or an oat based cream as a foundation for a coleslaw type salad dressing, freshly ground black pepper really is tastier than pre-ground and if avoiding salt, there are some good tasty and nutritious seaweed based alternatives, also can be made from foraged seaweeds, more of that in a later blog. The addition of seeds such as sunflower, flax, hemp, sesame, turns salads into a balanced nutritious meal and adds welcomed texture.

Forage for salads - A wild relationship

Another beauty, lentils with the beautiful pink double flowers of the midland hawthorn.

Having good foundation ingredients for the dressings is worth the investment, cider vinegar, fresh lemons, whole black pepper. Its worth exploring different oils, hemp and flax are beginning to be produced in the UK and are an ideal alternative to olive oil. Salt can vary and there are now many choices on the market, pure sea salt tastes way better than the budget table salt, and worth the little extra.

Forage for salads - A wild relationship

Edible garden flowers.

I hope, I have given you a little taster of my salad days, but I trust if you have come by this blog, you are already a pretty switched on cookie and your imagination will and can create many a delightful, tasty wonder, please share your tips and discoveries and together we can enjoy that wild journey further. The last photo is a taster of another blog to come, edible garden flowers, so please drop by again for more beauty and exploration x

Please check out my other offerings on A Wild Relationship

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For more hints and tips, come and like my page on Facebook A Wild Relationship ~ Paula. I would love you to share your discoveries with me.

All content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site, or found by following any link on this site. Independent and expert advice should be sourced by anyone wanting to proceed with foraging. Consuming wild plants is done so at your own risk, I take no responsibility. I am the legal copyright holder of all written and photographic material under the category ‘A Wild Relationship’ and the contents and photographs cannot be used to reprint or publish without my written consent.




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  1. Paula Hermes
    March 19, 23:18 #1 Paula Hermes Author

    Thank you.

  2. Anonymous
    March 19, 23:15 #2 Anonymous

    Thank you Alex.

  3. Anonymous
    March 19, 21:49 #3 Anonymous

    Loved the article ! ❤

  4. Alex Brocklehurst
    March 19, 15:10 #4 Alex Brocklehurst

    Hey Paula! Really enjoyed your article. Practical ecology at its finest. Real nutrition beyond words…

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