Recently, cooking or eating violet leaves has been one of the frequent search hits leading here. In short: go for it. You can do it. I had some with my taco-spiced lentils last night, and will be eating the leftovers for lunch today. They are edible, pretty delicious, and probably free. They might even be organic. As if it could get any better, they are a good source of important nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and probably a number of beneficial phytochemicals like lutein.
They remind me of baby spinach, with a tiny hint of watercress. The older leaves can have a slightly mucilaginous texture like purslane, but the young leaves typically do not. The leaves and flowers are edible, but the roots are not. Carefully remove the roots (technically a rhizome) before cooking or eating.
Ten Ways to Eat or Cook Violet Leaves
1) Make a salad. Chop and mix with other greens and your typical salad toppings. (Younger leaves)
2) Toss them in a soup, just like you would a handful of baby spinach. (Younger leaves)
3) Substitute for okra or file powder in gumbo or another stew. (Older leaves)
4) Add them to scrambled eggs. (Younger leaves)
5) Graze while you tend the garden. (Younger leaves)
6) Add them to a stir-fry in the place of other greens. (Either)
7) Top a sandwich, burger, or wrap with them. (Either, but nothing to tough)
8 ) Mince and mix into a cheese herb bread, muffin, or cracker. (Either)
9) Add them to a “green smoothie” if you’re one of those people who don’t like to chew. (Either)
10) Feed them to your bunny (or cat… she helped herself!). (Either)
**As always with any wild food, be absolutely sure you can accurately identify it as an edible plant before consuming.** For violets, spring is a great time to identify them since the flowers are blooming. See an image here.