While visiting a roadside honor stand recently, we came across an herb we had never tried before: salad burnet. Have you tasted salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor)? Its fern-like scalloped leaves have a delicate cucumber flavor, which makes it a lovely addition to salads, as the name implies, and an array of other dishes from tea sandwiches to light soups, fish, cheese spreads, and even iced tea and lemonade. Although burnet is not well known today, it was commonly grown in Medieval kitchen gardens and was used medicinally to heal wounds and protect against the plague. In the Elizabethan age, the herb was used to garnish glasses of wine.
We enjoyed our first nibble of salad burnet so much that we are now growing it in our container herb garden. The plant is a perennial that will return year after year. It doesn't dry well and the leaves can turn bitter as they age, so only fresh, tender leaves are eaten.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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