In the springtime wild greens are fresh and tender, making them one of the best salad additions. These greens have been unaltered by man and are typically more nutritionally dense by containing more minerals and vitamins than hybrid vegetables.(1)
I wandered into the idea of eating wild greens when my summer garden was nothing but a dried-up bed of dreams. Not a single vegetable I had planted in the garden was growing well, which frustrated my decently practiced green thumb. Had I known about straw-bale gardening, this edible wild greens discovery may have never happened. Looking over at the “weed” patch that I hadn’t pulled up yet, I began to wonder if I could just eat them. Mostly out of desperation and curiosity rather than actually wanting to eat weeds, and to eat at least one thing from the garden patch. After all, I did at least water them while hoping for zucchini.
Growing a vegetable garden sure teaches a person a lot about nutrition and the importance of pH balance. It amazes me how the health of your soil relates so well to the health of the human body. I consider it a risk-free opportunity to observe the relationship between the two.
After spending some time researching. Carefully comparing photos in books and reliable resources with the wild greens I was growing. I felt confident that several of the wild greens growing in my garden could be picked and used for my dinner.
Wild Edible Salad Greens Recipe with Hemp Heart Dressing.
For this featured salad recipe, I collected from the backyard; chickweed, lambsquarter, dandelion greens, as well as tender plantain leaves. I topped them with a blended hemp dressing, dandelion blossoms, and a sprinkling of hemp hearts.
I like the creamy textured dressing that can be created with hemp hearts. It is similar to pre-made bottled creamy dressings, except it has a fresh vibrancy that is palatable and far superior. It’s also important to purchase a good quality hemp heart product. Some are left in storage too long and will taste off putting. I have had great luck with the brand that I have linked.
Foraged Wild Edible Salad Greens with Hemp Heart Dressing
This is an easy recipe for a delicious wild greens salad and hemp heart dressing. You may either use all wild greens, or toss them with your favorite green leaf lettuce. If this is your first time eating wild greens, reduce the amount of wild greens to the size of a garnish until you know how your body responds.
- 2 cups, or less Wild Harvested Greens
- 2 cups Green Leaf Lettuce, optional
- 1/4 cup Hemp Hearts
- 1/4 cup Spring or filtered water
- 1/4 tsp Grey Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/8 tsp Lemon Zest
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Dill
Salad greens preparation
Collect and wash your choice of wild edible greens. Some suggestions: plantain, chickweed, lambsquarter, dandelion. You may also blend these greens with purchased green leaf lettuce.
Hemp Heart Dressing
Make the dressing by blending all ingredients except for the greens in a blender. Pour dressing over salad greens and top with dandelion blossoms and hemp hearts. Dressing will keep for two days.
Fresh edible wild greens are an excellent source of nutrition that will quickly become one of your favorite food groups. Especially if you like free food!
Wild Edible Books and Educational Resources.
I read books first to learn more about wild edibles. The book that changed my perspective and gave me confidence to continue is Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide. I also obtained a variety of books from the public library about the native plants of the area that I lived in. For example, at the time I lived in Western Canada, more specifically Edmonton, Alberta. I used these search terms to help find several books with information about the native plants of that area and if they were edible or toxic. The book Pacific Northwest Foraging by Douglas Deur is one example.
Collecting wild edibles is probably my most favorite aspect of foraging because any time spent outdoors is time well spent. (As I type this I am listening to these nature sounds for concentration.) It also helps to have ideas of how to prepare the wild edibles you are collecting in a meal once you bring them home. There is no shortage of books with recipe ideas, one example is Adventures in Edible Plant Foraging written by Karen Monger.
I also utilize Pinterest to not only find more helpful resources but also a place to hold the ideas that I have found helpful. I have created a board for Wild Edibles, Herbs, Gardening, and Health & Wellness Books.
Wild Greens Nutritional Benefits.
Wild greens are not your ordinary supermarket greens. Some are, in a good way, very strong in flavor. With careful experimentation you will develop your preferred amount and combinations. The nutritional benefits of wild greens is also note worthy.
Dandelion greens, one that is so plentiful it can be found nearly anywhere, is an excellent source of vitamin K. The importance of this vitamin is within it’s ability to support the development of bone tissue and over calcification of the human body. (2) According to research, Vitamin K is likely of benefit to individuals diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). (3) One cup of dandelion greens can potentially contain more than 500% of your daily vitamin K requirements. (4)
Chickweed is one of my personal favorites with adorable tiny leaves and a mild flavor. Chickweed can potentially contain drastically high amounts of vitamin C, and was historically used to cure scurvy. It is also a perfect topping for your salads.
Other Common Edible Wild Greens.
I find young plantain leaves to be almost identical in taste to spinach. You may already be familiar with plantain without realizing it. The seeds from the plantain are used for their digestive health support as psyllium husk. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that psyllium husk may offer therapeutic benefits to individuals with diabetes II. (5)
Lambsquarter is an excellent source of B vitamins. The leaves are a little fuzzy and have no strong bitter or distinct flavor so they’re quite easy to add into a salad mix.
If you feel up to a prickly challenge. Bedstraw, which may help with symptoms associated with fluid retention, can be finely chopped and eaten as a salad topping. So long as it is chopped small enough, it blends in well with a salad.
But aren’t they bitter?
I’m guessing that you’ve snarled your nose at least once if the thought of eating wild greens is a new idea. I know I personally wasn’t too eager to start. That was until curiosity got the best of me, coupled with delightful flash-back childhood memories of chomping down sourgrass, common yellow woodsorrel, in the yard.
Bitter is the lost flavor of our diets and is an easy addition to add to your meal. There is a very good chance that your mouth is now salivating just by the mention of eating a bitter food. Bitter and sour foods are the flavors that best stimulates your gallbladder to release bile for proper digestion. My personal favorite bitter herb is dandelion greens.
Rules to Follow Before You Harvest Edible Wild Greens.
There are a few important common sense rules to note before you begin harvesting wild edibles. When harvesting wild greens, please triple check that the greens your are choosing are indeed safe for consumption. When in doubt, just don’t eat it. The risk of eating a toxic plant mistaken for an edible one is not a risk worth taking. Harvest from areas that no animals (pets included) are excreting waste. Also, if it is a community space be sure that no one is spraying chemicals on the ground from where you harvest. Some people wage chemical war on dandelions, so ask first before you eat them. Another important note, for your first time eating wild greens, eat only a small garnish sized amount until you know how your body responds. Wild edibles have restorative properties, so it’s best to add them in slowly. For collecting, I find it easiest to dedicate one garden spot as a wild greens bed just the same as you would a bed of lettuce or kale. I only move the wild greens to this spot, water, and let them do as they please. I suppose you could technically argue that is not wild foraging and I am sure most of my neighbors thought it odd to intentionally fill my flower bed with wild dandelion greens. But that’s okay, we’re all a little odd in our own way.
The greens pictured above are so vibrant and delicious in flavor. Because the flavor is strong, I use these wild greens as an addition to a large red and green leaf lettuce salad.
Will you eat wild greens?
Do you plan to harvest your own wild greens? If you would like more information and book suggestions, check my Pinterest boards as mentioned above. They contain links to videos, websites, and books to give you a well rounded understanding of how to collect and eat wild edibles.
This post contains affiliate links. The information shared here is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to treat, cure, or diagnose. Please speak with your doctor before making changes to your diet.