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SPRING FORAGING: MINER’S LETTUCE (WITH A SOFT EGG AND SOME ASPARAGUS)

(Such timing, this morning, while finishing this post: SAVEUR announced their 2013 Best Food Blog Awards finalists, and I am utterly thrilled, humbled and overjoyed that The Year in Food is among those nominated. I’d be so honored if you took a moment to cast a vote for this site! xo, Kimberley)

When I was a kid, my sister and I frequented a little stream in the woods about a quarter mile from our house. We snuck along the side of a neighbor’s house, through overgrown thickets of blackberry brambles and along a long-neglected utility road to a tall, shady stand of trees and fallen logs and big boulders. Miner’s lettuce is a shade-loving plant and it was everywhere. The name is so evocative, and its relationship to California’s Gold Rush history, even if exaggerated, made me feel like I could be a totally self-sufficient forest dweller if need be. We would catch newts and pretend to grill them. (Apparently, they’re poisonous. Good thing we never actually ate them. And so much for self-sufficiency.) We had a series of plywood planks and old wood boards criss-crossing a huge grove of hollowed out redwoods: that was where we would live, in our forest dweller fantasy. I’m so happy that I got a little bit of a carefree childhood like that, that I could wander into the woods and play with my sister and fall off rocks and make a big mess in a stream and survive all of it. Because I think most of us survived those less-tethered, occasionally unsupervised childhoods. And our unsupervised adventures to the stream are among my absolute favorite memories.

This year on Easter Sunday, I went on a rainy day photo walk with some friends in the Presidio. It was nice to be out earlyish, and on such a quiet morning, and with such dramatic weather. I love spring storms and glorious grey light. It makes me happy. Also making me happy: that I discovered a huge grove of miner’s lettuce in the urbane wilds of the Presidio. It brought me right back to those days of childhood survivalist fantasies.

It’s among the most easily identifiable of plants to forage, owing to its unique round lettuce leaf with the little white flower in the middle. The flavor is mild, sort of spinach-y, with a pleasant sturdiness to the leaf despite its delicate appearance. Just make sure you positively identify it before munching on them!

Love this article by the ever-wise-about-foraging Hank Shaw: Foraging for Miner’s Lettuce

MINER’S LETTUCE WITH SOFT EGG AND ASPARAGUS

Yield: 2 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon grain mustard
1 small shallot, finely minced
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups miner’s lettuce leaves, thoroughly washed and rinsed
2 eggs
4 asparagus stalks, sliced on the bias into one inch pieces

First, make the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, white Balsamic vinegar, grain mustard and shallots vigorously. (If using a more acidic vinegar instead of white Balsamic, consider reducing vinegar. Adjust to taste.) Set aside.

For the soft eggs, bring a small pot of water to a gentle simmer. Once simmering, carefully lower eggs into water with a slotted spoon. Keep at a low simmer, and set a timer for 7 minutes.

While the eggs simmer, warm a skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil and the asparagus slices. Saute until just tender, about three minutes.

Remove the eggs from heat. Let them sit in a pot of cold water until ready.

Combine the miner’s lettuce with the asparagus. Toss with the dressing.

Crack the eggs. Carefully slice in half. (Some of the yolk may run.)

Top each salad with egg halves.

  • Megan Gordon - What a good news day! This salad looks absolutely delicious as does that rainy day walk. Was thinking about you yesterday and hope the shoot went well. Also was thinking: how could it not? You’re so good at what you do and it’s going to SHINE through in the cover and beyond. Happy weekending, friend.ReplyCancel

  • Aurora Satler - What stunning photography, you are making me homesick for the West Coast! I love your site and will be vigilant for some miner’s lettuce when I have a chance to get out of NYC and back into nature. Congratulations on becoming a Saveur finalist!

    -AuroraReplyCancel

  • Kristen - Congratulations!!

    I’m so glad you included asparagus in this post. I’ve been dusting it with harrisa lately and I feel ready for some different flavour combinations. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley English - Woot! I voted! Much deserved. Kudos to you. Happy foraging!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mimi - Absolutely stunning! Congrats!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - What a beautiful salad. Truly gorgeous, and somehow brimming with the fresh, lush green-ness of the spring. Congratulations on the nomination! Clearly, amazing things are ahead!ReplyCancel

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl - Beautiful pictures, fresh salad! Vote made!ReplyCancel

  • Irina @ wandercrush - Ah foraging is such a beautiful thing, I’m consciously trying to incorporate it more and more into my cooking process.
    Beautiful photos as always, and congratulations on the nomination!ReplyCancel

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com - Yummy and perfect spring deliciousness!!

    Congrats on Saveur — so well deserved :)ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf - HUGE congratulations on the nomination and highly deserved, especially with beautiful recipes like this :-)ReplyCancel

  • Magda - In Greece, this time of year, we always go foraging for wild asparagus. Food tastes differently when you gather it from the ground yourself doesn’t it?
    I love your salad, Kimberley. It looks so inviting.
    And, congratulations on your nomination!! Much deserved. I hope you win :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Congratulations Kimberley! Your blog has been a serious fave of mine over time, so it’s always awesome to see that recognition. Eff yes!

    So jealous of your early foraging jaunt. The ground is still lightly frozen here. Waiting and waiting, dreaming while I look at that pretty lettuce :)ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - Kimberley this is wonderful news – and such a wonderful post. Your recollections about tramping through the woods and foraging with your friends make me smile … I too grew up with miner’s lettuce – and your adult take on it is so appealing! I’m wondering where I can find some … (Maybe I will venture to the Presidio!) I’ll also click over and vote – fingers crossed, and congratulations! Happy spring …ReplyCancel

  • ileana - Congrats!! Love your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Christina @ The Hungry Australian - Well deserved – you have a beautiful blog. Thanks for making such an inspiring space!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - This post just demonstrates why that nomination is so well deserved. Just lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - I am just thrilled to pieces for you and your nomination!! Congrats! This meal is nothing short of perfection and the exact reason you were nominated. The words, the photos, the ingredients = gorgeous. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Eileen @ Phoenix Helix - I love the childhood story, and that you were able to recreate the experience as an adult. May the child in all of us live on!ReplyCancel

  • tara - Now this will sound strange, but I love the wet greeness of these photos. It’s just beautiful.

    Also, I’m thrilled to bits for you on your nomination. Congratulations, lady!ReplyCancel

  • steph @ stephsapartmentkitchen - CONGRATULATIONS! Such a well deserved nomination. I thoroughly enjoy your beautiful pictures and thoughtful, delicious recipes. :)ReplyCancel

  • Sam - So thrilled to see you a finalist in the Saveur awards, Congratulations. I have cast my vote.
    best of luck
    samReplyCancel

  • amelia - yayyyyy! And with that Lottie and Doof fella out of the picture, you’ve got the title this year for sure!!
    :) :)ReplyCancel

  • Puja @ Indiaphile.info - Oh Wow! I love to forage! Miner’s Lettuce sounds delicious. I’m going to look for it.
    It’s my first time to your site. You have a lovely blog! Congratulations on your nomination!ReplyCancel

  • Seve - You deserve this nomination. It should be clear as soon as you scroll through the homepage. Vote!ReplyCancel

  • Becky @ Project Domestication - Congrats on being a finalist! I just became familiar with miner’s lettuce as my local CSA is growing it this year. I adore it.ReplyCancel

  • J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats - Always love discovering new herbs/leaves, I was obsessed with lovage and shiso leaf for a while….will have to procure some miner’s lettuce!ReplyCancel

  • Kankana - Where can I find those greens? It’s so pretty and the salad sounds refreshing. Just what I need these days.ReplyCancel

  • Sequoia@casapepeoakland.com - Nice work! Miners lettuce is delicious and those eggs are cooked perfectly!!ReplyCancel

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