Wild Winter Greens and Prickly Pear Vinaigrette
When I was a girl, I yearned for certainty. Things needed to be named. Distances and concepts bridged with equations. I desired to know the exact composition of gases in the stars, and how long it would take me to travel to them. I needed answers.
The more I grow into my skin as a woman, the more I realize my hunger for awe. My interest yawns away from the concrete and toward the incalculable, the sublime. Wonder. The impossible beauty of trees. Love. Magic. Gosh, the stars sure are pretty.
I'm in awe of the tenacious greens that continue to grow here, despite months of overnight freezes and many snow storms. They even survived a cold snap last week, where it dropped to 15˚ (F) for more than a day. Taken as a whole, the landscape is brown. However, if you zoom in, you'll start to see tiny slivers of green.
I've known for years that I could pick dock (Rumex crispus) well into the cold season. But I'm a little surprised by the other greens I've been harvesting right up into December this year - dandelion, violet, mallow, and especially the prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola). I'm not sure how it is that I've never before known that the prickly lettuce continued to grow even after the weather changes. Is it because my eyes are usually turned skyward toward all of the tree fruit, and I only looked down this year because we had no fruit? I'm not certain. It makes me feel like I've been unobservant. Most of the greens I've been picking are at least partially hidden by blankets of fallen brown leaves. But the prickly lettuce is often out in the open, in rather lush-looking mats.
I swear, I learn something new every year. I'm happy to continue to stuff my face with wild greens for just as long as they continue to grow. The weather is expected to dip to around 0˚ later this week. It will be interesting to see if the greens survive.
Prickly Pear Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp. prickly pear fruit juice
2 Tbsp. pomegranate juice (or lime juice)
1/2 tsp. honey
1/2 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Shake all ingredients vigorously in a mason jar. Serve atop freshly-picked wild greens.
The tricky part of this recipe is getting juice from prickly pear fruit. I use a method I learned from my buddy Wild Food Girl. I rinse the fruit several time to remove any floating glochids. I then cut off the flowering ends from the fruit and pulse them in a food processor. Wearing gloves to prevent getting stuck by any rogue spines or glochids, the final step is to place the prickly pear pulp into an old t-shirt, and wring it tightly to obtain the pure (glochid-free) juice. I recommend doing a large batch of prickly pear juice, so that you can also make prickly pear margaritas.