I remember my early salad days walking to school with my three best friends: lunch pails in hand, pig-tails with bows, blue jeans slightly flared, singing songs along the way and picking sour grass and biting on the stems. We loved sour grass. Until my Dad told us dogs like to pee on it. That changed everything. Then my small but powerful girl gang would seek out honey suckle on the way to school instead – much higher up and much less risk.


Lollo Rosso, Red Romaine, Red Leaf, Shaved Fennel, Mint, Orange, and Sour Grass Flowers

My idea of sour grass as an edible plant changed to it being a really bad weed.

Much later as a young married adult in my very first house, I had an incredible garden. In my SF Mission garden I planted 5 fruit trees, annuals, perennials, roses, herbs, strawberries, vegetables – it was magical and a lot of work. That little sour grass plant tried several times to sneak its wild ways into my carefully crafted-to-look-whimsical garden. But I stamped it out quickly and mercilessly…

Red Lettuce, fennel, sour grass, orange

Sour Grass and Mustard Flower Fields Forever

Now my commute from San Francisco to Pescadero winds south along Highway 1. The freeway divides the rugged cliffs & ocean from the verdant mountains splashed with flourescent yellow. Mixed in with mustard flowers, the neon sour grass is untamed and glorious. I cannot get over how beautiful it is this Spring – truly breathtaking. Who would have thought?

Speaking of glorious, the lettuce in Pescadero right now is gorgeous. This salad is a mixture of ruffly red Lollo Rosso & deep purple Red Romaine from Del Sur farm and beautiful red leaf lettuce from Pie Ranch. I always love shaved fennel (Blue House Farm) with orange & mint. Navel oranges are at their peak and they’re inexpensive right now – even the organic ones.


Sour grass flowers just adds a little color and a little imagination. They do contain oxalic acid (as do turnip leaves) so I wouldn’t advise eating bushels of them, but they are hardly the weed I once thought them to be…

Purple Lettuce Salad with Shaved Fennel, Orange, Mint, and Sour Grass


  • 1 small head Lollo Rosso Lettuce
  • 1 medium head Red Romaine
  • 1 medium head Red Leaf Lettuce
  • 1 medium fennel, shaved thin on a mandolin
  • 1 bunch mint leaves, torn
  • 1 bunch sour grass, flowers for garnish and stems chopped
  • 3 navel oranges segmented
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (squeeze pith from segmented oranges)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Sea Salt and Freshly ground pepper


Wash and dry lettuce, tear big bite size pieces. Shave fennel thin on a mandoline. Segment oranges. Tear mint. Chop stems of sour grass and reserve flowers for presentation. Easy!

Mix olive oil into red wine vinegar-orange juice mixture. Pour oil in a slow drizzle whisking furiously until the two are incorporated into one glorious vinaigrette. Season, taste and adjust to your liking.

Mix all together, plate, garnish with flowers, and eat up!