Wednesday, March 14, 2012

JR's Fancy Salad

We had a wonderful lunch with friends the other day.

We had gone to pick up a load of hay, and they fed us a home-grown, home-made lunch. Boy, did we feel special! I like to visit other farming operations, we always learn something. But, when you get lunch, too…wooowee!

JR made this beautiful salad that looked worthy of a fancy restaurant. It was SO pretty and spring-like that I just wanted to gaze upon it for a while. (a short while….I was hungry) However, I cannot seem to remember that we have gone “high-tech” and that I always have a camera whenever I have my phone, so I didn’t photograph it.

That is my re-creation of said salad. It is made of Claytonia, red onion, a boiled egg and sunflower seeds. The original salad was far prettier, but you get the idea.

This led me to think of Claytonia, which may just be my favorite winter green.

The first time I ever heard anyone mention Claytonia was back when we first started doing the Market. There was this vendor at the Market who referred to herself as “the crazy lettuce lady”. She grew the most gorgeous lettuce mix and for the first couple of Markets, she had this pretty little green that she added to the mix. It had heart-shaped leaves and pretty little white flowers. I was intrigued. Why, that is Claytonia….miners’ lettuce…and you HAVE to try it!

Claytonia perfoliata, or miners’ lettuce, is a lowly weed from the West Coast, more specifically the mountains of California. The story goes that the ‘49ers (the miners, NOT the football team) found that if they ate it during the winters, it provided a great deal of Vitamin C and scurvy was no longer a problem. There are 26 related plants in the family, all sharing some similarities. It is most often eaten raw, although cooked it is said to taste like spinach.

Claytonia has a delicate crunch, a sweet taste (not unlike an apple) and a whole host of nutrients. It grows fairly easily, overwinters fabulously, and re-seeds itself (sometimes…and not always where we want it). The only down-side to this crop is that it does NOT, not even a little, like hot weather. A few warm days and it will bolt. That’s when the pretty white flowers become evident. This is fine for a short while, but when the nights are warm, the pretty little flowers extend into long seed pods and it’s time to move to the summer, heat tolerant greens in the hoophouse.

So, Bon Appetit!

…and friends, we owe y'all a lunch.

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