There is only one mushroom house in Bolinas - that I know of. And there couldn't be a more suitable man for the job of living there. Brett Poirier guided us on a delicious Bolinas forage for wild greens of all kinds. With a background in park ranger-dom and wilderness guiding, Brett is at home in the outdoors. In his typical uniform of fishing shirt, shorts, thick socks and sandals, Brett tastes his way along the trail, pointing out loads of edibles (and non-edibles) like miners lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), ostrich fern fiddleheads (Matteuccia struthiopteris), watercress (Nasturtium officinale) as well as miners pepper, stinging nettles, cow parsnip, cattail, yerba buena mint, and others. We brought our harvest back to the mushroom house, where Brett prepared a delightful salad that we toasted with beers while we enjoyed our foraged meal on the patio.
Harvest & Prepare
Miners Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata, is one of the easiest to identify because of its unique shape. It's leaves are round disks with little flowers or buds popping up through the center. The younger leaves are shaped like spades. Mix them in with other lettuces or on their own with some dressing. Crunchy, refreshing, delicious (pictured in thumbnail above).
Watercress, Nasturtium officinale, likes to live in or near little springs so I've noticed it often in the gutter on the side of a road on a hill. It's important that the water it's growing in is not stagnant. Stagnant water could be baaad for the belly. To be safe, harvest the dry parts above the water and when you get it home, soak it in a bowl of cold water with a few tablespoons of vinegar before you eat. It has a lovely spicy flavor. It can be eaten raw of course or blanched which makes the flavor a bit less intense but still delightful.
Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads, Matteuccia struthiopteris, are popular in the Northeast. I remember having it when family friend served it up as a specialty in Cape Cod. You want to harvest the fiddleheads before they unfurl. Look for them very early in the spring. The ones we harvested were on the edge - they were starting to unfurl - but we still enjoyed. Brett blanched them for a moment. Excellent with a sprinkle of salt and a spritz of lemon.
My Go-To Salad Dressing Recipe
1/4 – 1/2 minced shallot
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tbs. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste
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