This delicate, lovely plant is a traditional early spring green, eaten sauteed in bacon grease, with onion. It provides fresh vegetable matter early in the spring, before any type of lettuce or even most other wild greens are available. It is slightly succulent in texture, and very mild in flavor (especially as compared to many wild greens).
I come from a long line of coal miners from the Appalachian foothills of Eastern Kentucky. Indeed “miner’s lettuce” is an appropriate common name as it was one of the favorite seasonal foods of the area. The common coloquial name there however was “tangle gut.” It was almost always served Killed which means to pour hot oil over the fresh greens and toss and serve quickly. It was usualy bacon grease with a few crumbles of bacon left for extra flavor and chopped spring green onions, salt and pepper. I’m feeling both nostalgic and hungry thinking about it. I fondly recall my family going into the hills for hours collecting huge sacks of tangle gut and morel mushrooms. I find it funny that not only are most species of claytonia eaten by local populations, but that they are usually miners. Perhaps because miners are more likely to be trapsing through the areas where it grows. As for the bulb, we were taught its usefullness as a starvation food, but they were not commonly collected.