April is the month of greening when everything bursts into leaf and growth. It’s also a good time for collecting salad leaves and on our wander through Big Wood today I picked garlic, hawthorn and dandelion leaves to put in my lunchtime salad.
Young hawthorn leaves, traditionally called bread and cheese by children in England, have a pleasantly nutty taste.
Wild garlic has a very similar taste to domestic garlic but is slightly milder. It is an excellent medicine for the digestive tract, helping to keep the heart and circulation healthy.
Roughly chopped dandelion leaves make an excellent addition to the salad simply dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a trace of garlic.
The nineteenth-century French chef Marcel Boulestin recommended a salad made from equal quantities of dandelion ‘hearts’ (unopened flower buds plus the young leaves that surround it) and chopped beetroot.
Dandelion has a range of food uses, including dandelion tea and coffee. But do note the French name pissenlit and some of the English folk names such as pissabed that should warn you that the plant has a reputation as a diuretic.