Miner’s lettuce, also known as claytonia and winter purslane, is a delicate-looking annual that makes a wonderful winter salad herb. It is named miner’s lettuce because miners in the California Gold Rush ate the wild plant to avoid scurvy—like the unrelated purslane (Portulaca oleracea), miner’s lettuce is high in vitamin C.
About Taste: Miner’s lettuce isn’t aromatic. It is mild, with a clean, fresh flavor.
Parts Used: Leaves, young stems, and flowers.
Buying & Preserving: Miner’s lettuce can be gathered from the wild in shady grasslands in North America, its native habitat, but it’s much less commonly present in Europe. It is best picked and used at once, but can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for 1–2 days.
Herb gardening: A few herb nurseries now stock Miner’s lettuce, but it’s also easy to grow from seed. Seeds sown in spring will produce plants for summer time use; summer sowing will produce plants for winter picking. Miner’s lettuce does survive near freezing temperatures. It prefers a light soil, but is adaptable. Miner’s lettuce makes a pretty garden edging plant.
Miner’s lettuce leaves, young stems, and flowers make a useful and pretty contribution to the salad bowl. Miner’s lettuce is great for its winter usefulness, when other salad greens can be dreary. The leaves and stems can be cooked—try them alone or with different greens, stir-fried with a little bit oyster sauce.
Fresh sprigs and flowers: Miner’s lettuce leaves totally encircle the smooth stems. The tiny, white flowers are borne on thin stems from early summer.
Combines well with arugula, sorrel, watercress, chives.