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Spring Greens

wild spring greens for salad dandelion and wild carrot greens (photo by jhy)

Early spring is the perfect time to augment your salad with wild greens. Even though hardly anything here has greened up yet, I found young dandelion and wild carrot (Queen Anne's lace) sprouts. The only tricky thing about any of this is to learn to identify the plants while they are still small and hiding in the grass or the leaf litter from the previous year. You want young leaves before they become bitter. Both are edible when mature, but the taste isn't as nice.

Common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is pretty familiar to most everyone.
dandelion sprouts young dandelion plant (photo by jhy)

Wild carrot, Daucus carota, is recognized by most people when it flowers, but the young leaves are quite distinctive. They have a definite carrot odor when broken.

wild carrot sprout young wild carrot plant (photo by jhy)

Collect them by simply breaking off the leaves. Plants growing near road edges will have more grit, but you'll want to wash the leaves anyway. Place in a colander and remove any grass, sticks, etc. Wash gently and shake or pat dry as desired.

I like to mix them with regular lettuce to make a nice salad base, but if you collect enough, you don't need lettuce. The iceberg lettuce does ameliorate any bitterness of the wild greens.

wild salad greens mixed with lettuce dandelion and wild carrot greens mixed with lettuce (photo by jhy)