Welcome to my blog. I have created this to explore some of the wild things I have growing on my property, ingredients seldom found in the grocery stores and markets, and often mowed or thrown on the compost heap. So many of these edible weeds are plentiful, nutritious, and offer an inexpensive alternative to imported and store-bought produce.
My first thought was to focus on wild grapes and their leaves. However, they are still not ready to be picked in this area, so I shall begin with the humble dandelion. Rather than be irritated by their persistance and size, I began to experiment with the flowers, roots and leaves in my cooking. It is somewhat labour intensive, but at least I end up with very fresh, organic and free ingredients. If you have young children around, I recommend ‘allowing’ them to help you.
If you are skeptical about eating the flowers, unless you suffer from ragweed allergies (the same family) or if you have a history of gall bladder problems, you might wish to avoid these or consult your doctor. Otherwise, most people find the honey sweet taste of the flowers surprisingly pleasant.
If you are still not persuaded to try them, note that they are high in anti-oxidants, contain vitamins A and B12, and have long been considered a remedy for headaches, backaches and cramps.
The first recipe I am sharing is for dandelion flower pakoras. This is an interesting variation of fritters, and this batter can be used with almost anything edible. It is so simple and quick to make, it hardly deserves to be a called a recipe.
Dandelion Flower Pakoras
1 cup chickpea flower
1 tsp. chili pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water
Pick about 1 cup of dandelion flowers. Wash gently, and remove the top of the stem right under the flower. If you remove too much, the flower will fall apart, but the loose petals can be used in the batter along with the whole flowers.
Mix the chickpea flower with the salt and chili. Stir in the water until you have a smooth batter. Dip the blossoms in the batter. Remove each batter-coated blossom with a spoon and fry in vegetable or coconut oil until brown and crispy.
Serve warm, as is or with a condiment such as chutney, tamarind sauce, or even ketchup.
And now for the dandelion greens. These are often used when young in salads, but why stop there? They are a good source of calcium (even more than kale), iron, high in vitamins A and C and are a source of vitamins E and K. They are often used in detox recipes, contain all essential amino acids and are 14% protein.
1/2 lb. greens
1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp. salt
Blend all ingredients in a food processor, adding the greens a bit at a time.
Serve with pasta and add some freshly grated parmesan. Or use it as a base for a pizza. Freeze any leftovers.