I once went to quite a bit of trouble to track down Claytonia seeds to plant in the garden. I finally found them from Nichols Garden Nursery, based in Salem, Oregon. They have just about anything you could want in the way of seeds. They grew quite satisfactorily, but the life cycle was very short, and in the end, I concluded, not really worth the effort involved. How much more fun, anyhow, to find it growing in the wild.
Also known as miner’s lettuce, it is…well…”cute” is the only word for it. Each longish stem supports a couple of levels of round, slightly cupped leaves with a topknot of little white flowers. I found it growing in profusion along the verge of the road I walk nearly every day. The few handfuls brought home had begun to go to seed, but that just added a tiny bit of crunch to what is otherwise a tender, delicate salad. I threw everything into a strainer to rinse, then tore the whole plant: stems, leaves flowers and seeds into bite-sized pieces (I hate that chi chi custom of leaving salad makings whole so that they whip you in the nose and drizzle dressing down your chin). This salad was all about freshness and delicacy, so I just used a light dressing of oil and champagne vinegar. It would be easy to overpower these greens. Over at Greenish Thumb, Wendy has a recipe for the perfect drink to accompany this salad…or most anything, come to think of it. Hint: it involves gin.