I’ve been talking a lot about eating weeds, since that seems to be the most excitement I have in my life these days. I’m sure my neighbors think me a bit eccentric, outside every day gathering weeds in my yard, and almost never pulling them out of my garden beds. But at least I provide entertainment.
So I thought I’d list some of my favorite ways of eating the common weeds that grow around me. (Warning: I don’t do low fat.)
Savory Eggs, Weeds and Hot Cereal
Make some hot cereal or grains–my favorite right now is Bob’s Red Mill’s Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal, which also happens to be gluten free, for those of you with wheat intolerances. But millet, oatmeal, or any other hot-cooked grain would probably work. And grits! Let’s not forget grits. Mmmmmm.
While you’re waiting for your grains to finish cooking on low heat (or, if they’re fast cooking, when they’re finished cooking but still sitting in the hot pot), go outside and pick your weeds. I use dandelions, violet leaves, wild bittercress leaves, oxeye daisy leaves, and sometimes the smaller leaves from the wild mallow (they’re sort of fuzzy but I don’t mind). If I had chickweed I’d use that too. I also like to pick chives and a few herbs from the garden if they’re available. If your weeds are particularly dirty, you can wash them, but if not you don’t have to.
Make eggs in whatever way you like–I like them over-easy, yokes still runny. When your eggs are nearly done, but your weeds in the bottom of a bowl and spoon the hot cereal on top of them, stirring it all together so the weeds wilt a bit. I always add a bit of salt to taste, but use your judgement. I also add a wodge of butter. Then slide the cooked eggs from the pan on to the top of the hot cereal, and eat. I like to mush the runny yokes in with the grains and weeds, but everyone has different egg preferences–I’m sure you could also use scrambled eggs, or sliced up hard cooked eggs, whatever.
Wonderful with a cup of tea or herbal infusion.
Possibly the World’s Least Healthy Dandelion Greens
I adapted this from Barbara Griggs’ charming book Green Witch Herbal. I think I use more bacon than she suggests. She says it came from the French.
Pick a mess of dandelion greens. Wash them if you think it’s necessary.
Cook some bacon in a heavy pan until crisp–the guideline is 1 slice per person but I’m sure I used more. Like I said, I’m going for tasty more than healthy. I DO use organic, nitrate-free bacon though.
Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside on paper towels.
Drain off excessive bacon grease from the pan–what you want is a sort of non stick coating, you don’t want to deep fry your dandelion greens.
Throw the dandelion greens in the pan with the remaining bacon grease and saute them until they are hot and however limp you like them. Just before you’re ready to remove them from the heat, splash on some vinegar. I’m sure balsamic is delicious, or plain apple cider vinegar–I usually use my garlic infused apple cider vinegar, for a little yummy kick.
Remove them from a pan and put them in a bowl, and crumble the crisp bacon over the top.
SOOOO good. I can eat a LOT of dandelion greens this way . . . I mean, bacon! They go very well with roasted potatoes. I haven’t tried it, but I bet they’d be good over some whole grain pasta or brown rice too.
Wild Greens Pasta
(It looks a little scary but I assure you it was delicious)
(Yes, I often photograph my food)
Pick a mess of wild greens.
Make pasta (preferably whole grain)
Put the cooked pasta in a bowl, put a hand full (or two) of greens on top of the hot pasta, add a blob of pesto, or tomato sauce, or finely diced fresh tomatoes, or . . . (I used some really delicious roasted red pepper “pesto” a friend gave me) and a blob of cream cheese, or yogurt, or cultured sour cream, or creme freche, or GOAT CHEESE (oh how I wish I had had goat cheese when I made this). Stir it all together and try not to get it all over your face. (I was unsuccessful at this part, because it was so yummy and I was eating with a great deal of enthusiasm.)
You could also get a little fancier, and instead of just putting it in your bowl, you could put a whole lot of pasta in a big baking dish, add the greens, and put blobs of your chosen sauce and chosen dairy product all over, and bake it in the oven for a while until the greens are wilted and the sauces are all hot and runny. I haven’t tried this yet but I want to, I think it would be extra yummy.
Some other extremely simple suggestions
Throw a few handsful of wild greens in your spaghetti as you add the sauce or add them between layers of lasagna.
Use wild greens to replace some or all of the basil in your pesto.
Add them to your store-bought salad. Garnish with edible flowers.
Add them to soups.
Put wild greens on your baked potatoes with the sour cream or butter
Just go outside, pick them and eat them. Eat one variety at a time, and really pay attention to the texture, the feel, the taste, the personality. It’s a great way to interact with the herbs in a simple, honest way. And it’s kind of like being a little kid again.
And remember, any recipe that calls for cooked spinach, you can use nettles for. Just please don’t add raw nettles to your salad . . . ouch.