BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘weeds

Weeds You Can Eat: Little Western Bittercress and Young Dandelions

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Spicy, watercress-like Little Western Bittercress, growing in clumps in the garden beds.

Eat 'Em and Weed: Young Dandelions.

I’ve developed this irrepressible urge to forage, though my horse chestnut encounter did leave me a bit chastened. I’m also craving garden-fresh greens in the gray of winter, which has been quite balmy of late here, with young weeds and early crocuses starting to blossom.

We’ve had clumps of this clover-like weed erupting in bare non-grassy areas all over the garden. They’re easy to pull, with shallow roots, never much bothering me before. But it turns out these clumps–Little Western Bittercress–are edible! Suddenly, those ubiquitous weeds become less pesky. Thanks to the writings of fellow food blogger (and Master Gardener) Culinaria Eugenius, I was finally able to identify this spicy-sweet greenery. This Oregon State site made me even more confident that I’d identified it correctly. Bittercress: what a marvelous little plant, a peppery, mustardy, watercress-like Brassica relative. Tiny micro-greens that look and taste just like ones chefs pay a fortune for, an otherwise nuisance growing for free.

I wonder to what degree our tastes can guide us in discerning what weeds are o.k. to eat. The bittercress felt right, radish crisp. Dandelion, on the other hand, is so bitter I would assume it poisonous if I didn’t know otherwise. But its tannic flavor mellows with fat and blander flavors, like potatoes or a mild cheese. The greens were stunning in this pizza with fontina cheese. And Mark Bittman recommends them in his Green Mashed Potatoes, which Culinaria Eugenius also recommended. I whipped up a batch, but didn’t use enough olive oil or have enough greens: they should match the potatoes in a 50-50 ratio. But I think I’ll save my little bittercress for salads. I want to enjoy this fresh from the garden foraged find raw.

Just a tease: first buds in bloom here.

Written by baltimoregon

January 26, 2010 at 1:22 am

Dandelions…On Pizza and Overtaking the Yard

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weeder

Dandelion Greens, Italian Sausage and Fontina Cheese Pizza

Dandelion Greens, Italian Sausage and Fontina Cheese Pizza

Normally, dandelions, and the numerous other weeds that flourish in our yard, are my nemeses. But red cultivated dandelions, sauteed first in olive oil and garlic, sure do taste nice on pizza. And the ones in the yard will be easier to uproot now, with this trusty weeder my father-in-law just sent me. I’d like to forage wild dandelions but I hear they’re too bitter and tough unless picked when newly sprouted.

So I bought dandelions instead from local Denison Farms. Ivy Manning’s beautiful book was once again my inspiration: specifically, her recipe for Dandelion Greens, Italian Sausage and Fontina Cheese Pizza. EatingWell gave it their stamp of approval. Using the dough hook on your KitchenAid mixer, preparing the pizza dough is a cinch. No kneading necessary. I like her half whole wheat blend. Using a cornmeal-dusted backside of a baking sheet, we finally also successfully thrust the pizza onto the hot stone in the oven.

The sharp yet gooey fontina cheese (from Willamette Valley Cheese Co.) stood its own against the garlicky bitter greens. The anise and grease in the Italian sausage sweetened the deal, binding the flavors together. The sausage was supposedly ground from Carlton Farms pork, though the staff at old-school Emmons Meat Market looked at me strangely when I asked if the pig, beef and salmon were local. The pork yes, but the beef was from the Midwest and sadly, the salmon was farmed.

But the pizza was delish! We didn’t even miss the tomato sauce. Now if we only had the truffle oil for drizzling on top (which Ivy said was optional). Ah, the power of suggestion. I did miss it.

Pizza boy

Pizza boy

Written by baltimoregon

June 9, 2009 at 11:50 pm

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