Groundhog Salad is a nutritional salad that contains many of the first herbs of spring and gets its name from the wild plants that the groundhog eats. This meatless salad can contain many fresh wild plants and herbs providing vitamins, minerals and carbohydratesthat were once difficult to obtain during the winter.
The arrival of Spring brings new growth and many of the first plants to pop up are high in nutritional value. Groundhog salad contains these first plants plus edible flower petals, and adding nuts or seeds provides a protein and fat making this salad a complete meal.
Wild Onions (Allium) is a sturdy plant that can pop up during an unexpected warm spell during the winter and contains sulphur, which can be beneficial to the circulatory system. They not only help reduce cholesterol, but add spice to any salad.
Using wild greens, the young leaves of Dandelion, Sorrel and Plantain provides iron, calcium and Vitamin C however older leaves may require the center leaf stem to be removed plus a quick blanching in water to remove bitterness.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is usually available around the time that the Redbud tree flower pods appear. Red Clover leaves are tender when they first appear and can be eaten raw or cooked until the plant begins to flower.
Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) shoots are crisp and appear very early in the spring and can be used much like bamboo shoots. Day Lily flower buds can be pickled and added to Groundhog Salad, and after they open the flower petals add a delicate sweet flavor to any salad made with wild greens. The flower petals can also be dried for adding to other dishes including rice, pasta and soups or stews.
Flavorful Flower Petals
Other flower petals including those of the wild Violet, Redbud tree and wild Mustard (Brassica nigra) provide variation and unique flavor. The young leaves of wild Mustard can also be added to any salad and cooked or sauteed as a side dish.
As spring progresses other fresh leaves can be added including Yarrow’s (Achillea millefolium) fragrant flowers, which can be used to season soups, made into tea or used in baking, allow for variety in the diet.
Chickweed (Ceratium fontanum) is a short, white flowered plant that appears early in the spring giving color to the landscape. The leaves and shoots of Chickweed can be eaten after they have been cooked and used as a base for fresh salad and combined with vinegar and spices to create a tasty dressing.
Many culinary herbs can be combined with wild leaves adding more taste and variety including Borage, Tarragon, Oregano and Thyme. Tarragon, Oregano, and Thyme are easy to grow and will return every Spring once established in a flower bed. All of these culinary herbs have additional medicinal benefits and can be dried and stored for later use.
Making fresh salads from wild plants can add vitamins and minerals to the diet in a flavorful way and including flower petals in a Groundhog salad provides a dash of color. After winters gloom, color combined with flavor and nutrition is a great way to jump into spring.