Wild edibles a real spring treat

The last of the bright sunshine is dancing on the woodland floor this week as the tops of hardwoods fill with green.
Now is the best time to discover all kinds of tiny blooms around your feet—and to fill up the salad bowl.
There are many fresh edibles at this time of year, and plant foraging is as much an excuse to explore the outdoors as grabbing a fishing pole.
It’s about anticipating what you’ll find where, and the reward of preparing and eating each “catch.”
This time of year, there’s a lot of nutrition in leafy shoots. The food energy is concentrated in the new growth as plants rejuvenate.
Then by late summer, seeds and fruits power up before all the energy moves into the root systems for winter.
Regardless, tuning in to the flow of plant life strengthens a connection to nature. Just make sure to accurately identify what you consume since lots of plants are poisonous.
Earlier this week, I found some large patches of violets which bloomed during the heat of the weekend. These were easy to identify, and are in abundance right now because of the cool, wet start to the season.
I used the sweet greens as the base for a salad, which is as rich in vitamin A as spinach and as high in vitamin C (per serving) as four oranges.
The flower heads I used as a garnish.
I also added some tender young daisy leaves to my bowl. Any later in the year they are too bitter, but this time of year they add vibrant flavour and colour.
The root of the daisy is tasty, as well, but I didn’t add that to my salad because I don’t find it particularly pretty.
So instead, I chopped some young blue-bead leaves (Clintonia Borealis), which grows in abundance in wet transition areas throughout cabin country. Soon these plants will bloom with small yellow-green nodding bells before producing dark blue berries.
The berries are poisonous but the unfurling greens are nutritious—and taste like celery.
My next find, however, is my favourite spring edible: the cattail shoot. Not only is it abundant, but it’s easy to identify by looking for last year’s stocks with their fluffy, hotdog-shaped flower heads.
The new shoots emerge bright green, and will enter their peak in a couple of weeks.
This week, however, I was able to pull some tiny early shoots. Then, I just peeled the outer green of the shoots like bananas and collected the inner white core inside.
They are a sweet cross between an asparagus and a cucumber, and completed my collection of wild edibles.
There is a lot more out there to add to a bowl, though it’s not a good idea to have too many competing flavours.
The last step was a warm drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar. The salad then was served with fresh-caught fish.
I can’t imagine a more satisfying meal anywhere.
I don’t think my smile at the dinner table is just about taste, however. Nor is it just about the self-reliance that comes with gathering your own food.
It’s also about where and how the food is gathered.
In this case, the meal sprouted from my favourite places, and was nourished during the first glorious days of pure sunshine.

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