Preparing a salad with wild greens and herbs is a tasty way to learn about foraging in Vermont. Dandelion greens, a wild chicory, are ubiquitous; purslane grows in everyone’s gardens; and watercress can be found in local streambeds. Blend these with wild herbs such as mint, thyme, and parsley and then combine with early spring lettuces from the farmer’s market or your garden for a one-of-a-kind salad. The exact combination will depend entirely on what is available, the season, and your geography, but the basic idea is that when you add more wild foods to your diet, you are also feeding yourself a rich, healthy spring tonic.
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup tahini
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups mixed wild and garden greens (such as lettuce, arugula, mache, radicchio, young spinach, dandelion, purslane, curly endive, and sorrel)
½ cup chopped fresh spring herbs (such as mint, chives, parsley)
4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced (½ cup)
Toasted croutons, for garnish
Edible spring flowers, for garnish
Wild flavors can be a little piquant on their own, but because the leaves are so delicate, we like to use this light and lemony dressing, which softens the assertive flavors while letting the various greens shine.
Make the Lemon-Tahini Dressing: In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, oil, tahini, honey and garlic. Stir with a fork to blend. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Make the Salad: In a large bowl of cold water or in the sink, submerge the salad greens and gently stir with your hands to shake loose any dirt. Let the greens sit for a few minutes, then gently lift the leaves, allowing any residue to stay behind in the cold water. Spin dry in a salad spinner or shake outside (the old-fashioned way was in a pillowcase), and spread in a single layer on a clean, dry, kitchen towel layered with paper towels. Gently roll in a loose tube, and place in a plastic bag with the end open; let chill and crisp in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator until ready to use. In a large salad bowl, gently toss the greens with the herbs and scallions. Add the dressing, about 1 tablespoon per serving, and toss again. Taste the greens, adding more dressing or seasoning if necessary. Divide evenly among chilled salad plates. Garnish with toasted croutons and edible flowers.