Thursday, 24 August 2017


“A well-made salad must have a certain uniformity; it should make perfect sense for those ingredients to share a bowl.” - Yotam Ottolenghi 

Sanguisorba minor, the salad burnet, garden burnet, small burnet, burnet, is a plant in the family Rosaceae that is native to western, central and southern Europe; northwest Africa and southwest Western Asia; and which has naturalised in most of North America. It is a perennial herbaceous plant growing to 40–90 cm tall, typically found in dry grassy meadows, often on limestone soils. It is drought-tolerant, and grows all year around. It has rounded leaves with toothed edges, and 4 - 12 pairs of leaves per leaflet. Its flowers are small, dense, of a purple colour forming on spikes.

It is used as an ingredient in both salads and dressings, having a flavour described as “light cucumber” and is considered interchangeable with mint leaves in some recipes, depending on the intended effect. Typically, the youngest leaves are used, as they tend to become bitter as they age. Leaves can be used in sandwiches, they make a nice addition to cold drinks, like lemonade and wine spritzers. Salad burnet can be used to flavour dips and vinegars. Its leaves are tossed into soups, eggs and other hot dishes at the very last minute. The flavour of salad burnet does not hold up well when the leaves are dried, but leaves can be frozen and used in hot dishes.

It is easy to grow salad burnet, and it appears early in the season, holding up well in heat. It forms a clump and stays contained and controlled, growing in a loose rosette. However, salad burnet can spread by rhizomes and it will self-seed, although it is easy enough to pull out the unwanted seedlings (and use them), so it should not become a nuisance.

Salad burnet has the same medicinal qualities as medicinal burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis). It was used as a tea to relieve diarrhoea in the past. It also has a respectable history, called a favourite herb by Francis Bacon, and was brought to the New World with the first English colonists, even getting special mention by Thomas Jefferson.

In the language of flowers, salad burnet carries the meaning: “Let me refresh you”. A flowering stem conveys the sentiment: “Although humble, my aspirations are elevated.”

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

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