The Top 3 Forageable Ingredients You Didn't Know Your Salad Needed According To Melissa King - Exclusive

When Melissa King won "Top Chef," she was working with an eternally fully stocked kitchen – loaded with fruits, veggies, beans and seeds, brown rice, basmati rice, quinoa, and farro. The ingredients in her lobster wonton with shellfish consommé that Ludo Lefebvre wanted for his restaurant were all at the tip of King's fingers. So, too, were the ingredients for her Hong Kong milk tea tiramisu which made Italian butcher Dario Cecchini cry.

But when Melissa King is doing her own thing, she favors foraging — just check out her socials. She'll forage from her neighbor's persimmon tree and add them to salads and ricotta toasts. She'll hunt around her own yard for rosemary and chickweed. Or, the chef will go on grand adventures with National Geographic, and find and turn it into a TV series (have you seen "Tasting Wild"?). During those adventures, you can find her making yarrow, tulsi, and golden currant tea in Oregon's high desert, sea bean and kombu-infused dinner on the pacific coast, or congee with locally foraged mushrooms from Washington's Olympic National Park. 

"I define inspiration in nature and the power behind nature," she told Tasting Table in a recent exclusive interview. "I found a lot of beauty in the unexpected." 

In "Tasting Wild," King is in her element. You, of course, may not be able to travel around the country like King in her new show. There's a good chance, however, you can find some ingredients in the natural environments around you. Here are the chef's top three.  

Melissa King's top-three forageable plants

The next time you're looking for ingredients to complete your salad, try foraging instead of the supermarket. Even if you're in an urban environment, you may be able to take advantage of local bounty. "Wood sorrel is at least in the areas we were in California," King told Tasting Table. "I'm from California. It's quite prevalent when you go on a hike. You see wood sorrel everywhere and it has a nice citrus note to it." King also recommends miner's lettuce and — if you live near the coast — seaweed. "Things like seaweed — from my knowledge, there are no toxic seaweeds out there," King said. "You can safely forage for seaweeds in the ocean as long as it's fresh."

Foraging, of course, requires a little more forethought and education than a trip to the supermarket, and King advises caution. "I would put a little disclaimer about foraging in general," the chef advised Tasting Table. "You want to make sure you are well educated in the plants that you're harvesting to make sure you don't poison yourself or get sick."

Don't miss out on Melissa King's adventures on Nat Geo's "Tasting Wild," which is currently streaming on Hulu.