Friday, April 1, 2011

Miner's Lettuce Salad with Orange-Sesame Vinaigrette

Miner's Lettuce (AKA Indian Lettuce), is a wild lettuce found here in California and in my back yard. It is totally edible and is even showing up on the menus of shi-shi restaurants around town. (See below for info on where you can buy seeds to grow your own. Mine reseeds itself, although we have reduced its habitat in our yard since we have landscaped!)

Isa's Chandra Moskowitz's Orange Sesame Vinaigrette couldn't have been easier to make (I used orange juice instead of fresh squeezed oranges and had some lovely fig vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.) I normally don't like vinaigrettes, but this one doesn't have too much vinegar and the orange juice really sweetens it. The toasted sesame oil really makes the flavor pop.

Of course if you can't get your hands on Miner's Lettuce, you can use any kind of lettuce you like!

The salad is my recipe:

Miner's Lettuce Salad

2 cups Miner's Lettuce
2 cups chopped Romaine
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (pine nuts or sliced almonds would be fab)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (dried cherries would be good)

1/2 Recipe of Orange Vinaigrette

Indian Lettuce/Miner's Lettuce
Claytonia perfoliata

You can buy a packet of Miner's Lettuce Seeds from Larner's Seeds in Bolinas, CA for only $5.50. Be sure to check out all the other native plants and flowers they have seeds for!

Interesting Native American salad trivia: Native Americans would eat this green like a salad as we do today. Instead of a fancy dressing from a bottle or recipe from a cookbook, they would just let ants crawl all over their greens. From the Almaden Wildflowers website:

"Lettuce? Yes, you can eat it--raw in salads or boiled like spinach. Early settlers and Indians collected and ate it. It is said that California Indians used to place it by red ant hills to pick up formic acid as a dressing. I would be worried that the ants would eat it. I rarely pass the young plants without pulling off a leaf to nibble on. It tastes a lot like raw spinach to me, not as delicate as lettuce. It has none of the peppery kick of the the somewhat similar garden plant (weed?) nasturtium Tropaeolum majus, which is also in the Purslane family."

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