Free Salad for All 8

If you are willing to spend a little extra time, and do a little research, you can easily get half of your food for free. Today we were on a mission. Our mission was to gather a wild salad. We ended up coming home with a salad, a side, and and herbal tea.

The base for our salad was dandelion greens, field mustard greens, and garlic mustard.


Field Mustard


The field mustard has the best, most mild flavor and the texture is similar to cabbage. My personal favorite part is the unopened flower pods. It is everywhere in Kentucky right now. We have seen entire fields completely full of it. The garlic mustard, on the other hand, is NOT my favorite. I have tried it several times raw and I just hate it. I thought I’d give it one last try; but in the future, I will not be adding it to my salad. If anyone knows any good recipes using garlic mustard let me know! It is so abundant and invasive, I want to learn to like it! Dandelion greens are bitter but I think they are quite good. Kind of an acquired taste



Garlic Mustard

We topped the salad with wild violets, wild onion tops, and cattail shoots. The cattail shoots taste a lot like cucumbers, just be sure to forage them from a clean source. (They tend to grow in some seriously nasty places)


Cattail Shoots

To pick cattail shoots, just grab the shoots at the base and pull slowly, the tender white shoots should pop right out. Wash thoroughly and peel off the outer later.



Wild Onion

Here is the finished salad in all it’s glory:


A delicious, beautiful salad, 100% organic and 100% free!

We also gathered some curly dock for a side dish.

Curly Dock

Curly Dock

I just chopped and sautéed the leaves in butter with wild onions and some not-so-wild garlic, then stirred in some parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper before serving. It was delicious. As long as dock is available, I will never pay for greens. (and for the record, the salmon was also wild caught…by some commercial fisherman.)


We also found a patch of lemon balm. Lemon balm is very easy to identify because it has a very unique lemon smell. Robbie thinks it smells like lemon furniture polish. I, on the other hand, think it smells exactly like those chalky, old fashioned lemon hard candy sticks. (Does anyone know what I’m talking about??)


We brewed a tea of the fresh leaves. It is believed that lemon balm can relieve insomnia. I’m not sure if it’s the lemon balm or the long day of foraging, but I don’t think I’ll have any trouble sleeping tonight.


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8 thoughts on “Free Salad for All

  • Lori B.

    Thank you so much for showing each plant as well. Working to identify plants now, but nice to see someone else confirm! 🙂 Keep up these great recipes! Tonight I am making a nettle quiche for a brunch tomorrow. Trying to show my frieds how yummy, and cheap, nature is!

  • admin Post author

    Thank you! Lori, I’m on the same mission, but I’m pretty sure my friends just think I’m crazy. (oh well, more for me!) Nettle quiche sounds amazing by the way!

  • Clyde Myers

    Recipe for garlic mustard greens:

    Boil young garlic mustard tips 3 minutes, this can be the early spring shoots or the tender tops of the late spring early summer plants, with leaves and flower buds.

    Strain water.

    In a separate pan heat olive oil, bacon fat, butter or other oil, depending on taste or dietary restrictions.

    Once hot add a small amount of minced garlic and cook until golden.

    Add garlic mustard greens and sauté uncovered until done.

    salt and pepper to taste.

  • Clyde Myers

    Oh also, the tender roots of young plants can be used like horseradish. Boil them a couple minutes to soften then throw them in a food processor with mayo and a dash of Worcestershire.

    Puree till smooth and you have a nice horseradish style sauce. The older roots provide more flavor in my opinion, but are too fibrous to enjoy as a sauce.

    Love the site, thanks!

    • admin Post author

      Thanks Clyde! I will definitely try that out. I’m really trying to make myself like garlic mustard because it is so abundant and invasive.

  • James Kniskern

    Love the docks. We have a variety of dock called Patience Dock. It was mentioned in a Mother Earth News article, but here is a great recipe to try with it…

    We planted a few on our small Maryland property. We plan to plant more when we get to KY.
    The plant grows like the docks, but is much milder, and tastes great as a “lettuce” substitute in salad. Our favorite is to use it in taco salads. We have not purchased lettuce in the summer since we planted this perennial.
    This green is the first to send up leaves after the spring thaw, and the last to stop producing in the fall. Newer leaves are sweeter, and as the summer comes on, they can take on a bitter flavor, but we love them anyway!