Salad with wild edibles. See the watercress growing behind the salad?
A reader asked me how I get inspired to write about food every week. Well, here’s the answer. I find inspiration in the simplest of things. Like recently, when I taught interactive classes with children attending the Kids Kuisine event at Anderson Pavilion on the waterfront in Cincinnati.
Headed by Cincinnati Magazine, this fun event benefits The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati.
This year one of the tasty recipes the little ones helped make was a layered salad with seasonal ingredients.
We started out with a base of mixed greens, and the kids chose toppings. I had tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, carrots, cucumbers, squash, croutons, chick peas and sunflower seeds.
I thought they’d choose a few, but I was wrong. Every topping was approved and sprinkled on. (When you let kids help, even picky eaters become more adventurous).
Of course, the dressing was a no brainer. I had them shake up Ranch dressing in a canning jar. Who doesn’t like Ranch?
Anyway, when I got home I kept thinking about that salad. It looked so good and I didn’t get a bite. So that’s what I made for supper, and I augmented it with hard boiled eggs.
I had a few wild edibles foraged from a walk in our woods so I added those, too.
Take a peek at the salad. I photographed it on the edge of my spring fed woodland pool where watercress grows.
Can you see the watercress growing in the water? Along with the watercress, the other wild edibles I added were chickweed and garlic mustard. And what looks like chives garnishing the top are wild onions.
OK I need to say you don’t have to “go wild” to make a satisfying supper salad. Produce from the grocery will do just fine.
But do nudge it up a notch and dress the salad with this yummy homemade ranch dressing.
Homemade Ranch dressing
Go to taste here. You can always add more of any one ingredient.
2/3 cup each: sour cream, buttermilk and mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh
Palmful chives, minced (I used wild green onions) – optional
Palmful parsley, minced – optional
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
Whisk sour cream, buttermilk and mayonnaise together.
Then whisk in everything else. Makes about 2 cups.
Tip: Freeze buttermilk
The USDA says buttermilk keeps up to 2 weeks refrigerated.
Freeze up to 3 months in original container, leaving room for expansion.
Or freeze in muffin tins and then pop them out and store in freezer bags.
Tip: When foraging for wild edibles, a positive identification is necessary.
- Mother Nature gifts us with many wild edibles. Know what you’re picking (there are non-edible look-a-likes).
- Don’t pick from roadsides or places that may have been sprayed or visited by animals.
- If you’re not absolutely sure, don’t pick it.
- Clean gently and thoroughly before eating.