Lettuce growing slow with the coming of the cold? Here are our top winter salad greens to boost up your dinner plate with extra-leafy goodness. Perennials, weeds, bits of plants meant for other purposes – there’s plenty of sources to get some green in your belly when the going gets cold, but here are our top 7.
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus
Peppery, soft nasturtium leaves look so pretty in winter salads, and the young leaves popping out this time of year are nice and tender. Nasturtiums are an annual which readily self seeds but if you keep it under control by eating it, it will never become a weed!
Chickweed, Stellaria media
Chickweed is a little star – yummy, prolific and very healthy, containing calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, vitamins – especially C, A and Bs such as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine. It is easy to confuse with petty spurge, an inedible weed, so check out this handy guide before attempting an identification.
Baby beet leaves, Beta vulgaris
Baby beet leaves give you something for nothing – juicy, colourful leaves for your salad from the tops of your winter or autumn crop, still doing their thing underground (minus a few solar panels..)
The king of weeds, dandelion (dent-de-lion, meaning lion’s tooth) is a perennial weed that we clear space in our garden for! We love the taproots as a coffee substitute but the young leaves make a superb green, packed with Vitamins A, C, B6 & K plus calcium, potassium and iron.
Salad Burnet, Sanguisorba minor
This feathery perennial pretties up salads any time of year, but young new growth in winter is the tenderest and the best. It has a fresh cucumber-y flavour and makes a great understory plant in the garden, but can also be grown in pots.
Borage, Borago officinalis
With it’s weird oyster-y flavour and spiky leaves, borage isn’t for the faint hearted, but minced through a salad we think it adds a certain “something”. It also adds Vitamins A, B & C, iron and some omega-6 fatty acids. Borage is an annual that lives like a perennial (it readily self sows so once it’s in you shall have borage every year).
Sorrel, Rumex acetosa
Sorrel is a perennial green that gives year-round salad leafage. French lemon and ox-blood are our two favourite varieties for flavour and colour respectively. Larger leaves can be shredded through a salad, little ones can stay whole. Sorrel is closely related to the edible weed dock, though it’s softer in texture and taste. Sorrel has a long taproot which mines minerals and is high in potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and iron. It is high in oxalic acid, however, so don’t ingest copious amounts every day. Like everything, take the goodness of sorrel in moderation.
Want to learn more about eating your weeds? Grab a copy of The Weed Forager’s Handbook by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland from the Pip Shop.