Saltbush is a plant that was used a lot by the Native Americans. They used the stems to make dyes, the seeds to make an oatmeal-like porridge, but most of all, they used the leaves in their cooking. (http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/saltbush.htm) It is a great way to add a healthy source of salt to your dish without a sodium bomb. Not only does it have many uses in the kitchen, but it is a very hearty plant! It is native to California, so you may even have a bush growing in your vicinity without even knowing it! It is also drought resistant and non-invasive. With California in the depths of the worst drought in 500 years, we could all benefit from utilizing these types of resources.
The leaves have a salty taste, and they are very hearty, so there are a lot of uses for them. Looking for some ideas for using them? I like to use mine in:
It has a very mellow salty flavor, so don't be afraid to use a good amount. Think of it as a hearty herb. It's great raw or cooked down. One of my favorite ways to use it is with some sauteed kale. The two greens work very nicely together.
Sauteed Kale and Saltbush
2 handfuls of kale
Saltbush (depends how salty you like it, so feel free to start small and add more)
1 tbsp olive oil
Start with throwing your kale in a skillet on medium heat. Drizzle the oil over the top, squeeze some lemon over the greens (start small, a little goes a long way!), and add your saltbush. Saute all ingredients together until the kale is tender and cooked through, being careful not to burn the kale.
That's it! What a gloriously simple and versatile dish, isn't it? I like to serve mine for breakfast with some sauteed sweet potatoes and a couple strips of bacon or some breakfast sausage (pictured). It's also great as a side dish to steak or chicken.