Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vintage Values: Waste Not Want Not

There is something which has been really bothering me lately. I discovered that stores are beginning to sell chickweed, dandelion greens, and persimmons. This is southwestern Ohio, all of those things grow in abundance all around us. Why in the world would we spend money to fertilize and weed our lawn and then go the grocery and pay more money to buy those things back to eat?
So here is a little intro to "foraging," or as I like to call it, not wasting what you have.

We all know what dandelions look like right?

Yes, like that
Dandelions are only good when they are young (in my opinion) otherwise them become too bitter. So go find some dandelions in your yard (don't get the ones growing out of pavement. They will be dirtier) and if the leaves and smallish and soft, pick it, and if not, mark the dandelion with something...a stick, stone, whatever...cut off the leaves a little taller than ground level, and come back in a couple of days to collect the new growth. If you're really concerned about the appearance of your lawn but want to grow your own dandelion leaves this is a good method. You can get rid of most of your dandelions and just keep coming back to a couple hidden ones. Please don't eat them from your yard if you've been fertilizing though. Bad idea.
Dandelion recipes:
Dandelion Salad

Cooked Dandelion Leaves (I omit the beans from this recipe and serve it with Braised Beef)

Henbit is such a beautiful weed, I always hesitate to remove it. But it grows so much around our house I do end up getting rid of quite a bit of it. It's part of the mint family, and so tastes good where a more mild and spicy mint taste would work. I like it with Strawberries and Cream, or in Henbit Ravioli


Chickweed is one of the best common medicinal plants out there and it's also really tasty! You can serve it in a salad, as a garnish over meat, or lightly sauteed on a piece of crostini and parmesan. 

Creeping Jenny:

This is another one of those funny plants that grows all around us but they are more than happy to see you in grocery and plant stores. It likes to grow in wooded, well drained areas, so it's most commonly found when you're hiking rather than around your house. Lightly sautee the leaves with some peas.

Wild Thyme:

I saw this while weeding around my yard. I thought it looked a lot like thyme, so I took a little nibble, and it tasted like thyme too! So this one is easy. Just substitute wherever you would use thyme!

Wild Garlic Greens:

If you are wanting to try cooking with wild plants but are hesitant, wild garlic greens are the place to start. They can be used anywhere that chives, onions, or garlic is used. Mashed potatoessoup, eggs, and potato cakes are some of my favorites. I like going out and grabbing a handful to make an ordinary pasta more interesting.
This is a lunch I made of leftover asparagus. I mixed the asparagus with some noodles, and made a butter cream sauce, then added chopped garlic greens.

Daylily Shoots:

I wish I knew more ways to utilize these, since daylilies will grow back all season long, meaning that you can have a couple tasty meals out of them and they'll grow back to give you nice flowers in late summer. If I find more recipes I'll be sure to share them.
Grilled Daylily Shoots- cut 2 inch shoot and lightly grill them until wilted. Coat with 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and top with pine nuts and parmesan cheese.


Recipes for purslane abound. It's one of the new "hot" ingredients in food these days. I've only ever had it as an Olive Salad. Mix the leaves with artichoke hearts, manouri cheese, and black olives with an olive oil and cayenne pepper dressing. I really love zucchini soup so I'm anxious to try this zucchini soup with purslane. Honestly, purslane kind of weirds me out and I'm not crazy about letting it grow in my garden. I do, but I'm a bit childish about it. It just looks like a snake or something slimy. Don't let my weirdness about it deter you though!


This is one of the few wild winter recipes out there. Well, not quite winter, more like fall. Juniper berries can be cooked with any game for a great taste, or with braised endive.


I've never cooked with other pines and firs, but here's a great websiteif you're interested. Infusing vegetables is a pretty common thing to do. Take needle from a white pine (pictured) and place them in the boiling water you use to cook asparagus, or broccoli, or pretty much any vegetable. You can also infuse butter with the needles and use the butter to cook a chicken breast, or spread it on toast.

Persimmons and other fruits:
Wild Persimmon Tree

Persimmon trees, blackberry bushes, and plum cherry trees are the most common fruit trees around where we live. If you are ever nervous about picking a berry or fruit come back and visit the tree in spring when the leaves are blooming. Although it may be hard to identify a tree by it's bark, and many kinds of fruit look similar, the blooms will usually give it away.
Persimmon Tart: Cut 3 inch rounds of puff pastry. Blind bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes. Top rounds with whipped cream and lemon curd. Place thinly sliced persimmon on top.

Other Wild Recipes:

No comments:

Post a Comment