Claytonia perfoliata earned the nickname “Miner’s Lettuce” during the Gold Rush, when miners throughout the American West foraged and ate as much of these wild greens as they could. Claytonia is packed with plenty of vitamins C and A, as well as iron, making it a refreshing scurvy repellent for its eponymous nineteenth-century adopters. Today, we have the luxury of focusing on its mild, elegant flavor and delightfully crunchy texture. These factors make it a fantastic standalone salad green, or a reliable canvas for spicier, higher-toned vegetables, raw or sautéed.
Springtime Claytonia is the sweetest and best, as summer heat will steadily increase the plant’s bitterness. Unlike many other greens, however, this one will retain its crisp, mellow flavor even when in bloom, making the whole, handsome plant both edible and delicious. Long before miners ate this lettuce straight from the ground, Indigenous Americans often boiled the whole plants, as even the leaves are sturdy enough to withstand this sort of preparation, similarly to spinach. Delightful and versatile, we enthusiastically encourage Miner’s Lettuce as a crisp segue into all things springtime.
Pacific Northwest, United States