Wild and Foraged Spring Salad
Updated: Apr 30
One of the joys of Spring is greens. In most cases greens, especially with young greens, they are best eaten raw. Wild greens have strong and pronounced flavours, when you are eating a wild salad, especially in the Spring you know that it did not come out of a bag!
There are many ingredients that you could potentially add to a wild spring salad but I am going to list some of the easiest to forage and identify so that even if you are the biggest novice you will be able to re-create it and enjoy wild foods.. Obviously if you are time starved you’ll find a lot of these ingredients growing in your garden too so there is no excuse to make this simplest of side dishes.
Check out What Wild Food is in Season in Spring here.
Wild Spring Salad Recipe
Selection of Wild Flowers such as Sweet Violet, Dandelion and Wild Primrose to garnish
.. Oh, and if the flavour is to strong (though I don’t believe it should be!) you can use one or two of these amazing ingredients with a standard (but British) lettuce!
The Lime tree is common throughout the UK and grows in all but the poorest of soils. What you are after are the oval leaves, they have a sharp toothed edge and often become sticky with honeydew. Use this leaf to make up the bulk of the salad!
This pleasantly spicy plant is sweeter than its water loving cousin. The leaves are compound and well… Cress like! The leaves are dark green and later in the year the flowers are white.
These arrow shaped green leaves have an excellent flavour that is sharp or almost acidic with a lemony background. Amazingly cool and an excellent addition to any salad. There are many types of Sorrel such as Creeping Sorrel and Wood Sorrel.
The dandelion leaves are the easiest to recognise. Pick only the youngest of these deep toothed leaves so that the Chicory flavours are more mild. Loaded with nutrition, these delicious leaves are a must in a foraged salad. Check out more Dandelion recipes in the search tool.
The leaves of this tree are glossy and deeply lobed on spiky branches. The flavour of the leaves is mildly nutty and the texture firmer than the other salad leaves.
Found in grassy and waste places this perennial and the leaves are hairless and pinnate. In summer the flowers are small and yellow and grow together in clusters. This plant has a bitter taste and adds excellent contrast to a salad (don't eat Tansy if you are pregnant!).
I am not going to tell you how to make a salad, so chop it up however you like it. The flavours of this salad are strong so dress it lightly.
To make a dressing is simple, remember to use three parts oil to one part acid and then a flavouring, usually a finely chopped herb or even a mustard or spice. Add a little seasoning and then with a fork, whip it and 'hey presto', dressing made. Here's some combinations that I think that you might enjoy, but feel free to make any combination of oil, flavouring and acid.
Dressing 1: Light olive oil, cider vinegar and lemon balm.
Dressing 2: Rapeseed oil, dandelion petals, wild fennel fronds and orange juice.
Dressing 3: Virgin olive oil, wild garlic and white wine vinegar.
Try mixing the oils too, add a little walnut oil for example or flavoured oils such as lemon, even chillli. A touch of dijon mustard... The combinations are infinite.
After the salad is dressed sprinkle over a selection of edible wild flowers, I use wild primrose, Sweet Violet and I pull the petals out of dandelions to add soft shards of yellow throughout the salad, but hey you can use what you find or prefer!
….. Oh, please remember only the youngest leaves, you want tender light leaves for a salad!!
Warm Wild Greens
If you have a glut of leaves, and let's be honest, it is really easy to get a lot of these leaves, why not try converting your foraged salad into vegetable side. You can use all of the same leaves, except this time it starts in a frying pan. Add a small knob of butter and a little olive oil. Next fry a couple of cloves of finely sliced garlic. When the garlic starts to colour, add the leaves. You'll need a lot as they cook down significantly. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook until the leaves are all wilted. Serve hot, it goes great with roasted meats.
Visit our Wild Food and Foraging shop for a whole host of Wild Food goodies.