Day 32: Poke Sallet ♥

Tonight's Lesson: No matter what your mother used to say, it's perfectly okay to "play with your food".

On Saturday, I made an early trip to Soulard, the big St Louis farmers market. My favorite farmer is Charles, who has the best rhubarb, spinach and basil in the market. This week his stand also displayed bundles of greens tied with string. 'Poke' read the hand-written sign. I wondered out loud, What in heavens is poke? and another shopper answered, Don't you know that old song, Poke Salad Annie? (I didn't but listened to it here.)

There was no leaving the poke behind! No matter that I hadn't a single clue how to cook it.

Online I learned that 'poke salad' is a citified 'poke sallet', that Harlan County, Kentucky holds an annual Poke Sallet Festival, and that most recipes call for a 'mess of greens' and specify cooking the tender-looking shoots in fresh water three times, then cooking them with onions in a 'heap of bacon grease' with eggs.

The result? Yummy.

I may never make Poke Sallet again -- heavens, I may never come across poke again! -- and Veggie Venture followers may never make Poke Sallet but really, it was fun to try something so very completely new and just see what happened. THAT was tonight's lesson.

Active time: Not much
Total time: Awhile
Serves: A coupla folks

Mess of poke, new leaves
Heap of bacon grease
Onion if you want
Coupla eggs
Lotsa salt

Bring a pot of water to boil. Wash the dirt and bugs off the poke, tear off any tough stems too. Throw it in the water, let it boil again then let it cook for about five minutes. Do this three times, rinsing the poke under running water each time and starting with fresh water in the pot each time. Meanwhile cook some bacon, leave grease in pan. Throw some onions in there, then the greens and stir them around. Whisk the eggs and throw them in too, swirl 'em around to mix 'em up pretty good. Throw in a bunch of salt and some pepper too. Eat hot.
Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. My Mom made poke sallet all the time. She and Dad loved it. She always said you had to boil the greens three times, if you didn't they was a poison in them. I don't think they are posion. But I'm wondering why they must be boiled so much and in fresh water each time. I'm never made them. Mom gathered them wild and I haven't ever seen them for sale here.

  2. Hi! Well if there's poison, it hasn't hit me yet after almost a year! I'm not an expert in poke, just followed the 3X directions I found everywhere. My intuition says that there's a bitterness to the greens that can be washed/cooked away and that fresh water is needed to avoid actually concentrating the bitterness.

    If it's conventional wisdom to be flaunted? I won't know til I find it again but both Soulard and Charles are regular stops so I just might, again!

    Thanks for stopping!

  3. I live in Arkansas and poke sallet grows natural around here (although if you come too late to pick, all that's left is the berries, which make a great ink for little kids ;] I used to play with it all the time when I was little!) so it's been a part of the collective growing up thinger. I forget if you're supposed to cut it even to the ground or if you're supposed to leave about an inch of it left, but you definitely dont' want to pick any shoots that are more than nine or so inches tall.

  4. I know this is an old post, but just in case someone stumbles upon it - poke salad IS highly toxic if not cooked properly and experts advise against consuming it.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna