I am sharing some photos one of my most favorite places on earth. I feel so incredibly blessed every time I step foot into this little oasis, that it just happens to be right outside out back door. Our dogs also love to explore our woodsy backyard with me any chance they get. This hidden away natural habitat on the backside of our property has oak, cedar and Douglas fir trees, wild edible greens (including Miners Lettuce as featured in the recipe below), wild strawberries, Indian plums, wild flowers, and is a popular haven for the local wildlife including elk, deer, coyote, bobcat, and a wide variety of birds.
Above is a photo of our Black Labrador on the hunt for wild game.
Our sweet golden long haired chihuahua can also be seen above tracking scents.
Beautiful (non-edible) wild irises growing in our little sanctuary.
Miners Lettuce can be found growing in the lightly shaded forest and at the base of our larger trees.
Miners Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is pretty easy to identify. You can see how it has a long thin stem and a round disk shaped lettuce leaf at the top. If you harvest them when they are flowering, you will find little white flowers with 5 petals each, grow up and out of the disk. The plant itself doesn’t have very deep roots so I do my best to pick very lightly, snapping off a few stems of lettuce from each plant, and leaving the rest of the plant intact to continue to thrive.
Miners lettuce can be harvested and enjoyed while it’s flowering, but it is recommended to harvest it before the flowers turn to seed.
Miners Lettuce is often called “winter purslane” as it resembles purslane, and it also reminds me of watercress, though I find the flavor a lot more mellow than watercress. This “wild lettuce” tastes quite a bit like spinach with a nice refreshing crunch to it.
Just two cups of miners lettuce has 33% of the daily recommended of Vitamin C, 22% of Vitamin A, and 10% iron per serving. The wild green got its name when early day gold miners relied on it for Vitamin C to fight off scurvy. It is said to have also been a staple in the diet of Native Americans along the west coast. Miners lettuce can be found growing wild from California all the way up to Alaska, and has made appearances along the east coast too. It has also been introduced into the United Kingdom, Cuba, and Australia.
You can also purchase miners lettuce seeds to grow in your own garden. I think it makes a lovely ground cover and who doesn’t love pretty & edible “weeds” that are easy to maintain and highly nutritious!
Miner’s lettuce reminds me of a cross between watercress and spinach and I love the way this toasted sesame vinaigrette enhances it’s flavor. I also like to add in cucumber, green apple, red onion, radish, and top with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
Wild Green Salad with Miners Lettuce
- 4 cups to 6 miners lettuce or a mix of spinach and watercress
- 1/2 cup green apple
- 1/2 cup cucumber
- 1/4 cup sliced red onion
- 1/4 cup radish
- Tablespoon optional: garnish with 1 toasted sesame seeds*
- 3 Tablespoons light oil avocado or olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil*
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup okay to omit
- in *For AIP omit sesame seeds omit toasted sesame oil and add a few drops of fish sauce.
Pick your wild lettuce, and gently rinse off in the sink. (Though I often live dangerously and eat the lettuce on our properly fresh from the ground without washing first)
I prepare the lettuce by separating the large disks from the stems, and then I chop the stems to include in the salad too.
Slice apple and radish into matchsticks. Slice cucumber into thin rounds.
I toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan for a few minutes over medium heat, keep a close eye on them, and stir frequently.
Whisk dressing together in a small dish and then toss into the salad.
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve.
Estimated Nutrition (calculated at Myfitnesspal.com) info for Miners Lettuce Salad based on making 2 servings with 2 cups of lettuce per serving & dressing:
- Calories: 205
- Total Fat (with dressing): 19 g
- Total Carbs (w/o apple, w/o maple syrup): 7 g
- (if including green apple & maple syrup add: 9 g carbs + 36 calories)
- Sugars: 2 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Vitamin A: 23%
- Vitamin C: 38%
- Calcium: 6%
- Iron: 14%