Saturday, April 21, 2012

Eating Wild

Onion grass - picked form my front yard and washed, looks a lot like scallions, but free!

As the weather has turned warm and life has begun to move outside, my urge to eat from the earth right outside my back door has emerged with force. My little garden is not growing much of anything yet, just a few seedlings started indoors, but as I wandered along the sidewalk and yard thinking of dinner, I started to notice food growing wild underfoot. New spring dandelions with their tender green leaves, perfect for a salad, and clusters of potent onion grass just waiting to be dug up from my unkept "lawn".  I hear people talking about foraging for ramps or wild mushrooms, but both of those involve a trip to the woods, (a welcome adventure, don't get me wrong), but not as convenient as my front stoop. So, I rallied my kids and we started digging and cutting, first showing them how to identify the dandelion greens with their distinctive jagged edges, and then the onion grass with it's unmistakable smell. They had a blast picking with me, and were so excited to share the food with our extended family for a special dinner that night.

Dandelion greens - still small and tender - (above)

Onion grass sprouting up in my front yard, the hollow stem and strong onion smell are unmistakable (above + below)

When picking wild plants be sure that you are 100% certain that you know what it is you are harvesting, so that you don't eat something poisonous. These two plants are pretty simple to identify, but please always know what it is you are putting in your mouth before you eat it! Also, be certain that the soil where you are picking is not contaminated or been treated with pesticides or toxic fertilizers.

For dinner we made Broiled Wild Salmon on a bed of french lentils and roasted wild onions, topped with super local dandelion greens and a dijon dressing. Delicious!

Dandelion Greens Salad
Dandelion Greens - large salad spinner full
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1/2 teaspooon salt
pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Wash and dry dandelion greens.
  2. Finely chop garlic clove. Whisk garlic, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper together. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking continuously. 
  3. Toss over greens just before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Roasted wild onions
1 handful of wild onion grass, including bulbs.
olive oil
salt and pepper
  1. Trim roots from onion bulbs and remove any brown or tough parts of stem and grass. 
  2. Toss onions with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place onions in a single layer on a baking sheet directly under the broiler for a very brief time until browned but not burned. 
  4. Roughly chop roasted onions and add to any dish.
Note: The french lentils in the photo above were simmered in a large pot of water with a little salt. Once tender, drain the excess water, and toss with roasted onions and a drizzle of olive oil. Adjust seasoning as desired. The salmon was rubbed with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice and cooked under the broiler, until cooked through but still moist. The fish was prepared about one hour before the meal and served at room temperature. 

Have you found any good wild edibles this spring?

1 comment:

  1. Right on! I love to see folks eating weeds and having fun. I all but missed the wild onion season here in Berlin (the local variety is called Bärlauch, bear's garlic, and was already past its prime by the time I went foraging) but enjoy snacking on dandelions, daises and wild arugula when weeding at the community garden. Looking forward to elderflowers soon, for syrup and pancakes!