Branch lettuce and violets

Saxifrage and Violet Salad

Branch lettuce (Micranthes micranthidifolia), also called saxifrage, is so crispy and bright right now that I just can’t resist it. It’s so good for salad greens that I never cook it. And I was in the mood for salad.

So I got my bucket and kitchen scissors, then headed down the mountain to one of the seeps (I guess I could call this seep lettuce, huh?) where branch lettuce grows in abundance.

Harvesting branch lettuce
Harvesting branch lettuce

Last year’s leaves, which live all winter long (the winter lettuce is not only leathery and tough, but also slightly bitter), had finished their die-back, and the new crop had fully emerged from those same roots.

When I harvest branch lettuce, I often use scissors in order to keep from uprooting the entire plant by trying to pick by hand. But today I cut some and picked some, and didn’t have trouble with accidental uprooting.

Then on my way back up the mountain I found so many new patches of violets that I also stopped to add them to my harvest. Violet leaves have the same mild, crisp, and juicy texture and flavor as branch lettuce, and the flowers are so delightfully pretty. Again, I’m reluctant to cook violet greens because they are just so good in salads.

Branch lettuce and violets
Branch lettuce and violets

I was having lunch alone, so I only picked enough for one meal, then got it home and washed it a time or two. Any time you pick something with blooms on it (like these violets), you’re going to get some hitchhikers. A few little spiders or ants, usually. But these were pretty clean.

I chopped up some broccoli and added a scattering of honey-roasted peanuts to my saxifrage and violet salad, then made a quick vinaigrette from avocado oil and rice wine vinegar (with some spices), and sat in the cold spring sunshine to eat. I don’t see how you could have a prettier, tastier salad than this!

Saxifrage, violets, broccoli, and peanut salad
Saxifrage, violets, broccoli, and peanut salad

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