A trend is emerging. Not the fashion or music kind, but the gathering of food from the wild kind. Foraging. Seems to catch on. More and more are doing it.
Foraging classes are offered around the country, but the Novice Gardener couldn’t find one in the area. This makes her highly envious because she imagines that it must be great fun to be in one. And since she is quite certain about the weeds in the backyard, she decides to forage on her own, in her own property.
There isn’t a huge quantity to sample, but enough for a taste. And the Novice Gardener is hooked. Go on, try it for yourself. But be warned, it’s addictive.
These were inside the vegetable beds, where the cabbages used to be. And all over, really. But the ones inside the beds were fat and happy. I collected a bowlful of the tender tips. The ones without flowers. I boiled them in water for 5 min. Tossed them in olive oil, sprinkled salt, pepper, and squirted lemon juice. Not great, but not awful. Kind of wild, grassy tasting. Or what I imagine grass would taste like. The hairy leaves give it a coarse texture in the mouth. I’m not sure I’m a fan. Will revisit another time.
These look a lot like deadnettles; they are related. But the leaves are rounder (while deadnettle leaves are triangular), and they encircle the stems without petioles. They also lack the hair. I didn’t find a lot of them in my garden, but there were a few patches with nice big leaves, so I was able to get a small bowlful. I chopped them up and added them to a salad, along with wild garlic and chickweed. They gave the salad a green, fresh taste. I like them better than deadnettles, but they are not abundant enough in my garden for me to collect on a regular basis.
These I like a lot, and will try to grow as salad green along with other more conventional greens. Shocking, isn’t it? But they add such punch to your salads. Almost like arugula, except I don’t like arugula as much. I like these better. Maybe because the leaves are smaller. Therefore, not as overpowering as arugula. Also, I got them when they are young and tender. I heard they get bitter as they mature. But all greens do.
The good thing about these is that they are foolproof to grow, since they are weeds. And they are one of the first greens to emerge in Spring, so they can be a valuable addition to the bland store-bought salad mixes.
They are not actually weeds. I grew them from seeds a few years ago. But they are now “naturalized” in my garden. Growing easily anywhere the seeds landed. They are not invasive, if you’re concerned. But they do reseed easily. I love the taste, so I encourage them to set seeds. Best eaten raw in salad. Once I boiled them and didn’t care for the result.
I was surprised that they are good. Really. You wouldn’t think it since they look stringy and stemmy (is that a word?) but they do taste almost as good as parsley. In fact, I tried them in a Tabbouleh recipe as a substitute or addition to parsley and it turned out excellent!
Next to the bittercress, these are my favorite. Just like deadnettles, they have hairy leaves, so they need to be cooked. But unlike deadnettles, they don’t have that strong grassy smell. I find them pleasant tasting. I will post a recipe of what I did with them. It was yummy!