Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Miner's Lettuce Monitia Perfoliata

Miner's lettuce is a great wild food to try. It has a fresh, mild, sweet taste. Miner's lettuce is great on sandwiches and in salads. As you can see from the above picture it has a unique shaped leaf with the flower growing from the center, some botanists believe these used to be two leaves but eventually they merged together to make the one leaf you see above. Depending on the mood I am in, it reminds of a little round table with the flower being the center piece, sort of like the barista's at Starbucks, or a waiter holding a tray with a nice cocktail in the middle. The younger plants tend to bear single un-merged spatula shaped leaves, each arising from it's own stem. The mature plant tends to be about 6 to 8 inches high, sometimes higher in tall grass. It self-sows so easily and can probably be kept year round in most gardens. Around here in the Pacific Northwest it usually starts flowering in early May. It prefers cooler wetter climates but can also be found in other rich soil across America, sometimes I have seen it grow in a more sandy type soil as well. It grows from sea level up to about 6000 ft. This plant likes wilderness and is perfectly at home in a garden, in fact it loves manure and can be found at most ranches (because of all the horse poop) Miner's lettuce makes a beautiful ground cover and would be a delicious addition to your garden, with the mild climate in the Pacific Northwest you can grow it year round. The minors mining in the mountains would eat Monitia Perfoliata with their meals for a fresh vegetable, the plant is a source of vitamin C.

Miner's lettuce is best eaten immediately after harvest. It is also great to add to stir fry. Here is a salad recipe idea to try straight out of your garden, of course experiment for your self with other tasty herbs and salad greens.

approximately 4 cups Miner's Lettuce
A few handfuls of dandelion leaves
A few handfuls of basil
1 or 2 sprigs of dill
Your favorite nuts (almonds, pinenuts, or pecans are great)
Some dried berries or sun dried tomatoes
Balsamic Vinagar, olive oil, and a little sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and some garlic (in the dressing) to taste
Squeeze of lemon
Please do not make baby food out of this plant read my post nitrates
Photo by Dave Skinner

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