Do you know that many plants growing in gardens or in woods are edible? Maybe your mother or father showed them to you but you have forgotten it because we have supermarkets with a wide range of vegetables and herbs. So many of us have forgotten what all these wild plants look like or how to eat them. When I was a kid I was a girl scout and I knew so many edible wild plants and I thought it would be a nice topic for a really difficult post in my challenge with Aaron.
I hope you enjoy my 10 edible wild plants (Thanks Michael (-;)
These tall plants are found throughout Europe, northern Asia, North America, Africa, and Australia. Wherever they grown, they are generally found year round, and always near or in water.
In spring, cattails have small, immature shoots that taste a bit like zucchini. These fresh young cattails can be put into stir-fries, soups, pasta sauces, or any other recipe that calls for fresh, green vegetables.
Cattail Fried Rice
From THE WILD VEGAN COOKBOOK
This savory version of a well-known Chinese dish combines left-over rice with wild plants.
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup peeled and chopped cattail shoots
1 cup shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili paste or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the cattails, shallots and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the rice is hot. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
You really can eat daisies! In Switzerland (Where I come from), they grow everywhere. They are native to western, central and northern Europe. The species is widely naturalised in North America, and also in South America.
They are not just edible but they are also good for your liver.
3. Wood Sorrel
Wood sorrel is an edible wild plant that occurs throughout most of the world, except for the polar areas. It has been consumed by humans around the world. In Dr. James Duke’s “Handbook of Edible Weeds,” he notes that the Kiowa Indian tribe chewed wood sorrel to alleviate thirst on long trips, that the Potawatomi Indians cooked it with sugar to make a dessert, the Algonquin Indians considered it an aphrodisiac, the Cherokee ate wood sorrel to alleviate mouth sores and a sore throat, and the Iroquois ate wood sorrel to help with cramps, fever and nausea.
It has a tangy, tart, lemony taste that goes very well with many foods, especially salads and fish.
For a delicious cold soup in summer, harvest 1 cup of fresh wood sorrel leaves and chop a few large green onions or one small red, white, or yellow onion. Boil in one quart of water for 7 minutes or so – just until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and refrigerate for about 4 hours. Add a spoonful of sour cream at serving time, and add an Wood sorrel bloom for color, and you have a free, refreshing, lemony tasting, nutritious summer soup!
4. Bear’s garlic
Is a wild relative of chives. Bear’s garlic grows in woodlands with moist soils. They flower in spring, filling the air with their characteristic garlic-like scent. The stem is triangular in shape and the leaves are similar to those of the lily of the valley.
Bear’s garlic leaves are edible; they can be used as salad, spice, boiled as a vegetable, in soup, or as an ingredient for pesto. The bulbs and flowers are also very tasty.
Soup of Ramsons (Bear’s Garlic)
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients, serves 4
•1 bunch of the leaves of Ramsos (chopped about 5 tablespoons)
•25 g butter
•25 g flour
•3/4 l bouillon
•1/4 l cream
•salt, white pepper
Let the butter melt in a saucepan, saute the finely chopped onion and let it become light yellow, then add the flour and stir well. Now pour in the bouillon, half of the cream and the chopped ramson and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.Then blend everything in a food processor -not too finely- and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, whip the remaining cream and stir it into the soup. Serve with croutons of brown bread.
5. Common dandelion
Dandelions are especially well-adapted to a modern world of “disturbed habitats,” such as lawns and sunny, open places. They were even introduced into the Midwest from Europe to provide food for the imported honeybees in early spring. They now grow virtually worldwide. Dandelions spread further, are more difficult to exterminate, and grow under more adverse circumstances than most competitors.
Collect dandelion leaves in early spring, when they’re the tastiest, before the flowers appear. Harvest again in late fall. After a frost, their protective bitterness disappears. Dandelions growing in rich, moist soil, with the broadest leaves and largest roots, are the best. Select the youngest individuals, and avoid all plants with flowers. Some people eat the greens from spring to fall, when they’re very bitter. Others boil out the summer bitterness (and water-soluble vitamins) out in two changes of water. It is all a matter of preference.
Dandelion greens are wonderful in salads, sauted or steamed. They taste like chicory and endive, with an intense heartiness overlying a bitter tinge.
From THE WILD VEGAN COOKBOOK
Very young dandelion leaves impart a bitter flavor that may be wonderful or terrible, depending on how you prepare and season them. The four other ingredients in this recipe optimize the dandelion’s flavor, and this simple side dish is equally good if you use very young wild chicory or very young wild lettuce leaves.
1-1/2 tbs. olive oil
7-1/2 cups (packed) of very young common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), wild or commercial chicory (Cichorium intybus), or wild lettuce (Lactuca species) leaves
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
3/4 cup sesame seeds
2-1/2 tsp. Bragg’s liquid amino’s or tamari soy sauce
1. Toast the sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Immediately remove from pan and set aside.
2. Gently sauté the dandelion leaves and garlic in the olive oil 15 minutes, stirring often.
3. Stir in the Bragg’s liquid aminos and sesame seeds and serve hot.
6. Field Mustard
Field Mustard is an annual herb with much the same general nature as have common Radishes when they’re allowed to go to seed. In fact, it is the wild ancestor of Turnip. Here in Europe many harvest it because few weeds are such truly excellent “wild vegetables.”
Grilled Shrimp & Mustard Green Salad Recipe
1 bunch of Mustard Greens (wash, slice stems from leaves, then cut stems into 1″ pieces)
1/2 lb. Shrimp, (shelled & de-veined)
1 T Grapeseed Oil (or whatever neutral tasting oil you like)
1 T unsalted Butter
2 T Sesame Oil
4 cloves Garlic (crushed)
fresh cracked pepper
Nuoc Cham dressing
1. Coat hot pan with the 1 T grapeseed oil and 1 T butter and 2 cloves of crushed garlic. On medium-high heat, quickly cook shrimp till tender (about 30 seconds of each side). Remove from pan. Season with fresh cracked pepper and a dash of sea salt.
2. Coat hot pan with 2 T sesame oil and add 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Cook stems on medium heat until tender (@ 30 sec – 1 min.). Remove from heat, then add mustard leaves and stir until leaves are slightly wilted. For broader and tougher mustard leaves, cook with the heat on until leaves are tender to taste (approx. 1 min.)
3. Serve shrimp on top of mustard greens, then dress with about 1 1/2 T of nuoc cham dressing.
7. Sour dock or common sorrel
The mature plant is a reddish brown colour, and produces a stalk that grows to about 1 m high. It has smooth leaves shooting off from a large basal rosette, with distinctive waved or curled edges. The seeds are shiny, brown and encased in the calyx of the flower that produced them. This casing enables the seeds to float on water and get caught in wool and animal fur, and this helps the seeds to spread to new locations.
Sour Dock grows in roadsides, all types of fields, and low-maintenance crops. It prefers rich, moist and heavy soils.
Sour Dock is a widespread throughout the temperate world, which has become a serious invasive species in many areas, including throughout North America, southern South America, New Zealand and parts of Australia.
It can be used as a wild leaf vegetable; the young leaves should be boiled in several changes of water to remove as much of the oxalic acid in the leaves as possible, or can be added directly to salads in moderate amounts. Once the plant matures it becomes too bitter to consume. Dock leaves are an excellent source of both vitamin A and protein, and are rich in iron and potassium. Although quite palatable, this plant should only be consumed in moderation as it can irritate the urinary tract and increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
DANDELION, GARLIC MUSTARD AND CURLY DOCK SALAD WITH HOT BACON FRENCH DRESSING
Big bowl of freshly picked greens, washed and torn
1 medium red onion, diced
5 slices bacon
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Add onions to greens in bowl, toss.
In skillet, saute bacon until crisp. Drain off most of the bacon grease (leave about 2 tablespoons).
In small bowl, blend eggs, vinegar and sugar with wire whisk. Pour egg mixture into pan with bacon and return to heat (medium-low) WHISKING CONSTANTLY (you don’t want scrambled eggs) until mixture thickens considerably. Serve very warm over greens.
*Dandelion greens picked before the plant flowers are best. A nice mixture is 2/3 dandelion greens, 1/3 curly dock, and 1/3 garlic mustard. You can substitute or add spinach and endive.
8. Stinging nettle
Stinging nettle or common nettle, is a flowering plant, native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America.
Stinging nettle has a long medicinal history. In medieval Europe, it was used as a diuretic (to rid the body of excess water) and to treat joint pain.
Stinging nettle has fine hairs on the leaves and stems that contain irritating chemicals that are released when the plant comes in contact with the skin. While the hairs, or spines, of the stinging nettle are normally very painful to the touch. When they come into contact with a painful area of the body, they can actually decrease the original pain. Scientists think nettle does this by reducing levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and by interfering with the way the body transmits pain signals.
Stinging nettles are an intimidating source of food but boy are they a good one. Once gathered and processed they can be used much as spinach and are just as nutritious.
Stinging Nettle Risotto
When you have a lot (a bulgingly full carrier bag) they should be taken home and washed thoroughly (still wearing thick gloves) whereupon any bits and pieces that fall off the nettles should be thrown out along with the dodgy looking but totally normal brown water you now have and any particularly chewy looking stalks.
Next you need to sweat down the nettles in a pan with a knob of butter. They should cook for about 4 minutes wilting down just like spinach. When they look pretty wilted to you drain them thru a colander. The liquid that comes off could be drunk as a nettle tea but will need some sweetening with honey or sugar.
Put you nettles aside and start work on your basic risotto. Take a cupful (by which I mean a large English teacup or 2 thirds of a mug not your US cup measure) of any short grained risotto rice (arborio is the easiest to find in most shops).
Put this ready to one side. Also get about a 900ml to a litre of stock up to just below boiling temperature while you finely chop an onion. Sweat this onion on a medium heat till it’s turning translucent then up the heat and throw in the rice to toast in the butter. When the butter is absorbed add a ladle full of stock. Now stir the risotto hard while the rice absorbs the stock. Keep adding ladles of stock in this way until you have a bout 300-400 ml left.
At this point add the now chopped nettles into the mixture (oh by the way once you’d boiled them earlier you should have removed the gardening gloves as the heat will have destroyed the stinging barbs). Continue adding the stock until you feel that the rice is cooked but still have some bite I normally find I have one and a half ladles left when I reach this point.
Grate in a decent amount of Parmesan and then season with salt and pepper tasting as you do it (because the Parmesan and stock may have made it salty enough).
This will serve 2-3 people as a massive main course or 5-6 as a starter or accompaniment.
There are also many variations on this dish. Try adding garlic to the onions. Try using leeks instead of onions. Try using a soft cheese like Camembert or Taleggio instead of Parmesan or even try adding wild mushrooms or chestnuts or bacon or all of the above.
9. Ribwort plantain
Ribworth plantain is a common weed of cultivated land.
The plant is a rosette-formin herb, with leafless, silky, hairy flower stems. Grouping leaf stalk deeply furrowed, ending in an oblong inflorescence of many small flowers each with a pointed bract. Each flower can produce up to two seeds. Found in British Isles. It is considered an invasive weed in North America. It is present and widespread in the United States and Australia as an introduced species.
As a food, leaves – raw or cooked. Not really very nice and if you can get them there is liable to be better eating around. The very young leaves are somewhat better and are less fibrous. Seed – cooked. Used like sago. The seed can be ground into a powder and added to flours.
Beef, Fish and Ribwort Plantain Stew Recipe
This recipe is based on a Liberian original for Palava (a meat and fish stew flavoured with bitterleaf and chillies). Bitterleaf is a native West African green with quite bitter leaves. In my quest to make the most of British natives I’ve found that ribwort plantain, which is generally considered too bitter to be of much culinary value actually makes a good substitute for bitterleaf. Here I also substitute the ground egusi with pumpkin seed flour.
When preparing ribwort plantain pick the youngest leaves you can and remove all the ribs from the underside of the leaves before cooking (these are stringy).
675g stewing beef, cut into 3cm cubes
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
freshly-grated ginger, to taste (at least 4 tbsp for authenticity!)
4 hot chillies (eg Scotch bonnet)
100ml groundnut oil
600g ribwort plantain leaves, all ribs removed and shredded
600g dried fish, salted or smoked fish
1 Maggi cube
1 tbsp black pepper
salt to taste
Place the chillies and ginger in a pestle and mortar with about 1/4 the onion and pound to a paste. Now add the tomatoes and pound everything until smooth. Thoroughly was the dried fish, flake into pieces and remove as many bones as possible.
In the meantime, boil the beef in about 200ml water with the Maggi cube, black pepper and salt until tender (cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 50 minutes). Drain the beef and keep the stock.
Add the oil to the pot and use to fry the remaining onion for 5 minutes then add the chilli paste and fry for 5 minutes more before adding the dried fish, the ribwort plantain and the beef. Pour in the reserved beef stock and make up to about 500ml with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer then cover the pot and continue simmering until the greens are tender (about 15 minutes). Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the dish has a thick sauce-like consistency
Serve with mashed potatoes or boiled rice.
Wild Chamomile is an annual herb originally from Europe which has escaped to the wild and is now naturalized on almost every continent. It can now be found growing along fence rows, roadsides, and in sunny open fields from Southern Canada to Northern U.S. west to Minnesota.
Chamomile is one of the most widely used flowers for herbal tea. Chamomile Tea is so popular, it is found in most grocery stores in the tea aisle. It is used as a mild sedative, and is good for insomnia as well as many other nervous conditions. It is nervine and sedative especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time. Except for the small risk of allergy, Chamomile is also one of the safest herbs to use.
Camomile and Lemon Syllabub
If you are lucky enough to have camomile growing in your garden then you will already appreciate both its flavour and medicinal qualities. If not, a good-quality organic tea bag will work well.
2 cups wild camomile
50ml boiling water
50g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp dry sherry
300ml double cream
1 Infuse the tea in the water and leave for 30 minutes. Strain through a tea strainer or fine sieve and chill for 30 minutes.
2 Place all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl and with an electric whisk start to whip together. When the mixture is starting to thicken, slowly add the tea. Continue to whisk until the mixture is quite thick and stands in soft peaks.
3 Transfer to four wine glasses and chill for 2 hours. Serve with sponge biscuits.