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Fresh & healthy salads all year round

pic_eating3Salads are healthy. Duh! But how to make your salad a fresh & delicious part of your meal?
We like salads especially when they have a big variety in taste and texture. When every bite is a surprise. So we assemble a salad with a few types of lettuce, some fresh herb leaves and anything wild and edible that I can find. Like chickweed. Or young dandelion leaves. Or wild garlic or chopped sorrel. Or any young vegetables from your garden.

For the basis for your all year round salad you need a garden or a balcony or window, and the seeds of “four seasons lettuce”. Sow the lettuce periodically (every month) and never pull out a whole plant. Pick only some of the outer leaves so the plant can keep on growing.
If you have a garden, you can also grow all kinds of other lettuce leaves in different periods of the year. Like lamb’s lettuces or rucola or any type like in our salad calendar below.

 

Edible flowers to spice up your salad (picture source: eattheweeds.com)
Edible flowers to spice up your salad (picture source: eattheweeds.com)

Edible flowers for your salad
There are many edible flowers that make your salad look and taste great. Like those spicy nasturtium flowers in red, orange and yellow. The darker the color, the spicier the taste.
You can also use daisies (little white flowers that grow in grass) to make your salad more happy, or orange calendula flowers, violets, the leaves of roses, clover flowers, blue cornflowers are edible, blue borage flowers, blue chicory blossoms…

If you want a more colorfull meal, check out Wikipedia where you can find a list of edible flowers and their colors and flavor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_edible_flowers


Fresh herbs in the salad
So besides lettuce and flowers, we also use fresh herbs like basil, parsley (both good for your digestion system), coriander/cilantro, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm, mint or sage. We forage wild herbs like nettle, plantain and wild garlic.
I usually chop these herbs small because their leafs are firmer than lettuce leafs. The small chopped pieces also spread the flavor.

A herb that is packed with vitamins and minerals, is alfalfa. Well known as sprouts but of course you can also sow a bit in your garden to get the plant (and grow more seeds yourself).

Borage gives nice edible flowers and you can eat the leaves in your salad. Add the blossoms and leaves especially when you have skin problems.


And what else?
We like to put fennel greens, chopped hazel nuts, green onion leaves and garlic sprigs in our salad bowl, besides the more common additions like boiled egg and tomato quarters.

Most vegetables that are still young and small, make a great addition to your salad. Think of young carrots, small broccoli shoots, young pea snaps or green beens and young zucchini’s (courgettes). Since nature provides us with plenty, you can use some baby vegetables before you harvest the mature ones.

Also great in salads, is grated carrot/cabbage/turnip/jeruzalem artichoke, or even a bit (because it’s so spicy) of grated horse radish. Or “al dente” broccoli, cooked corn, young pea snaps, young carrots, radishes spinach leaves…

When you grow sunflowers or pumpkins, you can add their seeds to your salad. Or add flax seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds or the big (fresh & green) nasturtium seeds.

The bigger the variety the more delicious the salad!

My fresh salad leaves calendar (middle of Europe)

January: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, winter purslane, witloof, winter spinach

February: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, young dandelion leaves, winter purslane, witloof, winter spinach

March: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, young dandelion leaves, winter purslane, witloof, winter spinach, chickweed

April: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, young dandelion leaves, witloof, chickweed

May: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, young dandelion leaves, onion sprigs, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

June: lettuce, chards, rucola, young dandelion leaves, fresh herbs, spinach, celery, onion sprigs, calendula flower, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

July: chards, rucola, nasturtium, n-z spinach, fresh herbs, young amaranth leaves, spinach, celery, onion sprigs, calendula flower, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

August: chards, rucola, nasturtium, n-z spinach, fresh herbs, young amaranth leaves, celery, calendula flower, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

September: lettuce, chards, rucola, nasturtium, n-z spinach, fresh herbs, young amaranth leaves, celery, calendula flower, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

October: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, nasturtium, n-z spinach, fresh herbs, winter spinach, celery, calendula flower, mustard, beet leaves, tatsoi, cress, chickweed

November: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, winter purslane, nasturtium, witloof, winter spinach, tatsoi, cress, chickweed

December: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, winter purslane, witloof, winter spinach, tatsoi, cress

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