Greens are an important part of a healthy diet as they provide nutrients and fiber but are low in carbohydrates. Greens are probably the hardest vegetable for kids and reluctant adults to begin enjoying though. The texture and the way they are prepared can put many people off. Creating a wild salad from your backyard is a great way to make greens fun and enticing.
Rules of Foraging
Foraging for dinner is a fun way to get family members to try new vegetables, but there are some rules to foraging.
- Be absolutely sure – Don’t pick or eat anything that you’re not 100 percent sure is edible. Some poisonous plants look very similar to edible ones (like water hemlock and wild carrot!).
- Be safe – Only forage in areas that are safe. That means avoid places that are sprayed with chemicals or where there may be dirty runoff. Avoid roadways and farmland unless you know the farmer and know that they don’t spray.
- Be respectful – If you’re foraging on someone else’s land get permission first. Never take the biggest strongest plant. It’s likely the one that grew the whole patch and probably has the strongest ability to reseed or reproduce.
- Be sustainable – Remember that we are sharing nature with many other creatures. Always leave enough for other animals and so the plant can reproduce.
If you follow these rules you’ll be safely foraging for your food while keeping the planet safe and healthy too.
Choosing Your Wild Salad Ingredients
If you know how to identify these weeds or know someone who can help you, they make a great wild salad that even kids will want to try. Choose your ingredients based on their flavor (try to mix mild ingredients with strong ones) as well as their seasonality (some are best harvested in early spring while others can be eaten through the summer).
- Dandelion – This weed is best in early spring when the plant is young. The greens are earthy and slightly bitter. The flowers are mildly sweet.
- Plantain – This weed has a nutty and earthy taste and is also best in early spring.
- Ground Ivy – This foraged green has an earthy, herbaceous taste similar to basil, sage, and mint. Harvest in summer.
- Lamb’s Quarter – Mild tasting, lamb’s quarter is a bit salty and is used as a replacement for salt in dishes. Harvest in summer.
- Clover flowers – the whole clover plant is edible but most people find the taste too strong. A few clover flowers though can be a nice addition to a salad.
- Wild berries – If you’re going to search for wild berries, stick with blackberries and raspberries as they are easy to identify and don’t have any look-alikes.
Grow Your Wild Salad
If you aren’t comfortable finding these backyard weeds, consider planting some weed-like salad ingredients of your own.
- Mache – This mild flavored green is expensive to buy so growing it yourself is the way to go. It’s a bit unusual looking so kids will love it!
- Arugula – This green is actually quite common in salads but the shape of the leaf makes it look like a wild green. it has a peppery flavor so it’s best mixed with more mild greens.
- Calendula – The petals of this flower are edible. They are a bit spicy or peppery so don’t add too many.
- Nasturtium – This pretty flower is also edible and has a radish-like taste.
If you don’t want to forage for fruits, fresh berries from your garden or farmer’s market make a nice addition to this salad.
Wild Salad Recipe
- 4 cups greens
- 1 cup edible flowers
- ½ cup fresh berries
- ¼ cup salad dressing (your choice)
- Tear the greens into desired sized pieces.
- Sprinkle flowers and berries on top.
- Top with your choice of dressing.
Have you ever foraged for a salad? What was your experience?
Read My Comment Policy
Oh yay! I wouldn’t say I am exactly observant when it comes to local species of plants, but I did happen to recognize two of these right off. Katie is going to love these, thank you!
love, love, LOVE it! thank you!!!
Carla Smith Veinot
My kids would never forget it but they wouldn’t eat it! (they looked at them and said ew).
@Carla – LOL! I would probably say that too if I were them, but the owner of a Bed & Breakfast DID get me to try one when I was a kid by adding lovely edible flowers drizzled in honey. It’s one of my favorite memories from that trip!
I made a salad one time with flowers in it and my daughter said you aren’t ‘supposed’ to eat flowers. I thought it was a wonderful salad but she wouldn’t touch it, lol.
Well, more for you , then!
I recently put some Rose of Sharon flowers in my husband’s salad, as well as my own. I noticed his clean plate at the sink… clean except for the flowers. I, however, enjoyed them. I notice that my kids will eat something OUTSIDE easier than they will eat it inside. If they pick it right off the plant and pop it into their mouths that is more appealing that putting it into a bowl and bringing it indoors. Just a thought.
Great point, Jolee! I used to love harvesting and eating watercress fresh from a Colorado stream and Katie loves sampling our herb garden. Love that you served flowers to your hubs!
ok, well that’ll teach me to pick all the sorrel from my yard like it’s a weed! It always looked pretty tasty but I just didn’t think i could eat it like a salad.
I’m not surprised about kids not eating things picked from the “wild”, even when the wild is pretty tame! But, that’s exactly why we need to keep doing it – society is teaching our children that wild things can kill you, so they’re afraid. While wild things do need to be respected, it’s not good to live in a society that fears plants!
I love this quote from Stephen Buhner:
One of our greatest fears is to eat the wildness of the world.
Our mothers intuitively understood something essential: the green is poisonous to civilization. If we eat the wild, it begins to work inside us, altering us, changing us. Soon, if we eat too much, we will no longer fit the suit that has been made for us. Our hair will begin to grow long and ragged. Our gait and how we hold our body will change. A wild light begins to gleam in our eyes. Our words start to sound strange, nonlinear, emotional. Unpractical. Poetic.
Once we have tasted this wildness, we begin to hunger for a food long denied us, and the more we eat of it, the more we will awaken.
-stephen buhner, the secret teachings of plants
I think that awakening is exactly what is needed these days (though I can attest that awakening doesn’t actually require ragged hair! 🙂 )
Our Small Hours
Oh, my word! What a gorgeous salad.
The “Sorrel” pictured is actually woodsorrel. Sorrel is unrelated and quite different, although you can eat it too.
I would suggest being careful WHERE you harvest your plants from. Have hazardous sprays been applied there? Herbicides? Pesticides? I’d also suggest wild violet flowers; sweet and pretty. Picture at:
Thank you! 😀
Thank you for posting this. I love a good wild salad. I’m new to it since I began my apprenticeship to an herbalist and forager here in Scotland – our yard is FULL of fresh greens this spring!
Your ingredients look much different from ours – which is the beauty of a wild salad, right? Hyper local, changing all the time. 🙂