One Simple Change: Try Foraging (Plus Dandelion Salad)

Hey everyone! I know it’s only been a few days since my last One Simple Change post, but that one was “late” and this one is “on time”, so there you go. I do try always to post something for One Simple Change on Fridays, but sometimes life gets in the way…I am sure you can relate :)

With Earth Day right around the corner, and with this violet jelly still fresh on my mind and in my belly, I want to talk about foraging!

I have a longstanding interest in herbal medicine and edible wild plants, so foraging is something I really love to do. That said, while I own a few foraging books and I’ve attended numerous foraging walks over the years, I am by no means an expert. So what I want to do with this post is try to inspire you to get interested in foraging, too, and highlight a few ways you can learn more.

Why forage for wild foods? Well first of all, it’s fun and a great way to get out and experience nature. Also: foraged foods are generally very high in nutrients…and they’re free. A couple of cautions, though: it’s very important to not just eat anything you find in the wild. There are a lot of poisonous plants out there, and many of them look like plants that you can eat. So buy some guide books, and/or forage with a knowledgeable person until you are really comfortable with what you’re doing. Please.

Here are some of my favorite wild plants…ones I think everyone should know how to identify. They are pretty common, and very nutritious:

Stinging Nettles
Lamb’s quarters
White and red clover

If you have no idea where to begin when it comes to foraging, here are some books I suggest for learning about wild foods:

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places
The Wild Vegetarian Cookbook
Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate (The Wild Food Adventure Series, Book 1)
Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
The Everything Guide to Foraging: Identifying, Harvesting, and Cooking Nature’s Wild Fruits and Vegetables (Everything Series)
There’s also an excellent app called Wild Edibles with Wildman Steve Brill…I have it on my iPhone.

Here are some blogs that post excellent content about foraged/wild foods:

Hunger and Thirst for Life
Fat of the Land
Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

And here are some of the posts I’ve done in the past that feature foraged foods:

Black Barley, Purslane, and Watermelon Salad
Greek Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Purslane
Dandelion Greens with Ramps, Bacon, and Blue Cheese
Spinach and Violet Salad with Blue Cheese
Spinach and Blood Orange Salad with Violets
Pan Crisped Greens with Eggs and Sweet Potato
Spring Vegetable Curry with Ramp Cilantro Chutney
Violet jelly

I’ll leave you today with high praise for a salad I made recently with dandelion greens from my yard. Dandelions are pretty much everywhere in early spring, and the greens are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. I mixed them with chopped Cara Cara orange, avocado, cheddar cheese, and toasted almonds, then dressed the whole shebang with a maple poppyseed dressing (inspired by Cheryl Sternman Rule’s new cookbook: Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables; I love this book and you’ll be hearing more about it soon by the way).

dandelion salad

So are you “in” to this week’s One Simple Change? How do you feel about foraging? Ever done it? Want to give it a try?

Leave a Comment

33 thoughts on “One Simple Change: Try Foraging (Plus Dandelion Salad)”

  1. I was looking for something unrelated and stumbled upon your blog – happily so though as I live in rural France and I am trying to put together a business which offers holiday breaks in France featuring foraging. The idea is that people get back to basics – foraging for mushrooms, berries, chestnuts, greens etc and learning other lost arts to those brought up in cities – like iron mongering, making sausage and breads, growing vegetables etc. It was wonderful to read that so many people out there are still interested.

  2. Pingback: One Simple Change: Get Closer to Your Food | Healthy Green Kitchen
  3. I can just hear my husband now – are you sure you’re not going to poison us??? But if I really think about it – I always picked blueberries on Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts when I was a kid and while golfing one day I picked a year’s supply of Bay leaves from some beautiful and bountiful bay laurel trees. So I guess I’ve foraged, sort of :-).

    Can’t wait to see what you’re going to be cooking up from Cheryl’s beautiful new book.

  4. This is my first time commenting on this series (and your blog, perhaps!) but I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying these posts. They are so informative and inspiring and always touch on things I do or hope to do (last week I went on an unsuccessful search for elderberries, but I’ll keep trying). It’s just great to know how many of “us” there are out there. Thanks so much!

  5. I have collected dandelion greens, edible flowers and wild berries since I was a kid… recently I discovered Mulberries =)
    and really want to learn more about mushrooms!

  6. Hi Winnie,
    I’m a new reader and I adore your blog. I nominated you for the Liebster Award, but I just saw you have 4,618 followers. Oops! I hope you’re not offended, I’m just not tech savvy. Anyway glad I found your page. It’s inspirational!
    ~ Angela

  7. I just wrote a post about foraging and how it gives me a sense of time and passing of the seasons. I grew up in the Italian countryside and foraging wild herbs has always been a natural, normal gesture and a tradition that passed from one generation to the other. I m grateful to my grandma to have taught me how and what to forage, how to recognize edible herbs and how to use them in the kitchen. Here in London, I just saw some nettle and dandelion growing under the trees of Wimbledon park, which is where I live, and I am already cooking with them. It is nice to find these little corners of wildness in the middle of the metropolis, it makes me feel less lost.

  8. I am having fun learning here in Italy, beware the more you learn the more there is to learn.(I am becoming obsessed) Always be sure before you eat something (ask a local expert) check local field-guide etc . Happy Earth Day! Loving the blog-great photos . )

    • Thank you! And yes- I did mention above it’s so important to make sure you are certain of plant identity before you consume anything from the wild :)

  9. While I’m out foraging for wild violets I will look for some of the others you have listed. Wise Mona did a post recently all about stinging nettles. It was fabulously informative as well.

  10. My father-in)law foraged a lot which seems to have been pretty common for his generation: dandelion greens, mushrooms, etc. I think a lot of people still forage in France for the simple things. In the autumn we do look for mushrooms. Informative, excellent post, Winnie!

  11. I am an avid forager. There is something about that “wild taste,” as Euell Gibbons called it, that is unlike anything else. Last year was a banner year for mushrooms in the northeast and I found upwards of 50 pounds of maitake! Your dandelion salad sounds rich and delicious…

  12. I first read about foraging in one of my favorite books: Kathy Erway’s “The Art of Eating In” and thought it sounded interesting. When I lived in Philadelphia I asked a lady selling fresh herbs if she had chamomile. (I had fresh chamomile tea in Peru once, it smelled and tasted so yummy…just boiling water and flowers.) Anyway, she told me a street I could go looking for it, but to be careful of dog poo. I was afraid so I never went. But the idea of foraging sounds fun!

  13. i have never foraged but I have to admit you have caught my attention. I am going to look up some of the reading material you provided… Looking forward to the new education

  14. Definitely in. We are going to forage for some ramps tomorrow. My husband, the naturalist, is better at this than I am, but we also have foraged for some mushrooms (chanterelles, puff balls), dandelions, wild strawberries, dandelions…. It’s fun and they are always delicious.

  15. I live in the city and it’s hard to find places here where I would be able to forage. I love the idea, though.

    • City parks can be a good place…in NYC there is a very popular series of foraging walks in Central Park :)

  16. I have one rogue dandelion in my small garden- I can eat it? Sounds silly but Ive never even thought to eat dandelion before! I’m off to find that app!