I get a thrill out of foraging for free stuff, especially food, and I’m hoping to instill the same in my kids. I’m willing to do a bit of work for the “free” stuff, like fighting through the thorns to get to the plump, juicy blackberries, and in fact, that probably makes the treat taste that much better. I equate it to a treasure hunt; finding hazelnuts or huckleberries in the forest is definitely like finding a prize. So last week the kids and I set out to forage for a free salad. We started in the fridge and then moved to the pantry. We had some leftover feta cheese that a friend had made, another friend had given us some lemons from her yard, and yet another couple had given us some olive oil as a hostess gift a few months back. So far, so good — all free! Next, we headed out to the yard; dandelion greens really are edible. And we have lots of dandelions because my younger son loves to stomp on the seed heads or blow them all over the lawn.
But dandelion greens can be a tad bitter, especially if used raw, so we headed out into the woods and along our driveway, looking for some miner’s lettuce, which is sweet and tender and yummy. We gathered enough for a salad, ate a few leaves as we picked, and headed back into the house with a bowl full of our efforts. Back in the kitchen, I rinsed the greens and my youngest used the salad spinner to dry them (he loves it!). I threw on the feta, and then made a simple dressing with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, plus a clove of garlic, because we all love it. I ended up cheating a bit and adding a few toasted nuts to complete the dish. I chose hazelnuts because we actually have hazelnut bushes growing on our property, but we’ve only ever gotten 2 or 3 nuts off them in 10 years. But the hazelnuts in the salad could have come from our foraging attempts, so it’s only the slightest bit of cheating, right? I’d love to hear about other people’s foraging, scavenging, or dumpster-diving, if that’s what you like to do. Please post your tales in the Comments. And if anyone’s wondering whether my kids are getting anything out of the exercise, here’s a couple of shots that should convince even the staunchest of naysayers.