Simple Recipes for Spring Roots and Greens

Reader Contribution by Felicia Rose
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Wild Dandelion

Wild dandelion grows abundantly on our land. Early spring before the yellow flowers appear, the leaves are tender and mild. Later in the season they develop a stronger flavor and texture, but still work well in a salad. Cultivated dandelion retains a milder taste, but denies one the pleasure of foraging and (unless one has a greenhouse or lives in a warm climate) enjoying a homegrown salad early in the season.

Dandelion Green Salad Recipe


• 2 cups wild dandelion leaves, washed and patted dry
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts*sorrel
• scant tbsp maple syrup (less if leaves are mild)
• 1/8 tsp salt or to taste
• wild ramps, washed and patted dry (optional)


1. Julienne the dandelion leaves.

2. Slice the ramps, if using, and add to the leaves.

3. Toss salad with olive oil. Coat well.

4. Add salt. Toss again. Add toasted walnuts and maple syrup. Toss again. Serve.

*You can toast nuts in the oven or on the stove top. Here’s my recipe for the latter. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the chopped nuts in a single layer to the dry pan. Stir occasionally. Cook until the nuts are golden brown.



Sorrel, a hardy perennial, appears in our garden as early as the middle of March. In the past, we’d enjoyed the idea of it, its cheery arrow-shaped leaves poking through snow presaging more greens to come. But the raw leaves with their acidic lemony flavor made us pucker. We can’t say we liked them.

Recently, I tried sautéing the leaves in butter. My wife still finds the flavor too pungent, but I adore it.

Sautéed Sorrel Recipe


• 2 cups sorrel, washed and patted dry
• 2 tbsp butter
• 1/8 tsp salt or to taste


1. Julienne the sorrel leaves.

2. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a stainless-steel pan. (Do not use cast iron or aluminum since these metals mix with the leaves giving them a metallic flavor and rendering them inedible.)

3. Add the leaves.

4.Toss with salt.

5.Sauté for 7 to 8 minutes or until the leaves have turned a deep olive color.

Serve with eggs, use as a spread for toast or eat alone.  

Note that sorrel leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid, which may be of concern for some.


Parsnips taste best after a hard frost. The parsnips we planted last spring have benefited from several frosts and are all the sweeter for them. We find that parsnips keep best in the ground, and so we dig them up when we need them. Their earthy aroma is a reminder of why we garden.

Braised Parsnips Recipe


• 2 parsnips, washed, peeled and sliced into rounds
• 2 tbsp butter
• ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans*
• 1/8 tsp salt or to taste
• 1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)


1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Lower the heat.

2. Add the parsnips and sprinkle with salt. Sautee until lightly browned.

3. Add ¼ cup water, cover the pan and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.

4. Add more water, a tablespoon or two at a time, as needed.

5. When the parsnips are soft, remove the lid, allow the water to evaporate, add the sugar if you’re planning to do so, and then sauté the parsnips on both sides until they turn golden brown.

6. Add the pecans and serve.

*Note: You can toast nuts in the oven or on the stovetop. Here’s my recipe for the latter: Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the chopped nuts in a single layer to the dry pan. Stir occasionally. Cook until the nuts are golden brown.



Hyssop, a hardy perennial, appears in our garden in early April bringing with it a soothing aroma. The leaves taste faintly of licorice and make a wonderful tea.

Hyssop Tea Recipe


• 2 cups cold water
• about 20 to 25 fresh hyssop leaves, washed and patted dry
• 2 tsp honey
• 1 tsp loose black tea (optional)


1. Place the hyssop leaves and water in a pot.

2. Bring to a boil. Brew for 10 minutes.

3. Add black tea, if using, and brew for another two minutes.

4. Remove from heat. Add honey and serve.

Felicia Rosemoved from her native New York to a homestead in northern Utah several years ago where she grows and preserves tomatoes, arugula, garlic, rhubarb, and many other crops. She is currently sustaining a permaculture garden, experimenting with new recipes that use the food she grows, and living a bountiful life on a limited budget. She writes an occasional column entitled “A New Yorker in the Valley” for the Cache Valley Voice. Read all of Felicia’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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