Saturday, 12 May 2012

Eat your weeds 1: Nettles and Dandelions

Sea Bream, Salsify & Garlic Puree with Forced Dandelion, Baked Baby Beetroot
Grilled White Asparagus with a Nettle Sabayon

I am still on my mission to give individual weeds their fifteen minutes of fame before we give them the chop this year. This gave me an oppourtunity to trial weeds and wildflowers that were edible.
So I rolled up my sleeves this week to see what I could rustle up with some simple foraging.

The intention was to keep the flavours as clean as possible. The Dandelions were a little better raw than cooked so they needed no great culinary skills. Cooking or soaking nettles removes the stinging element. Thankfully there were not many witnesses to the big deal I made out of picking and preparing the nettles. Wearing gloves to protect myself I still managed to get stung countless number of times which resulted in lots of hopping around the kitchen uttering words I hadn't heard in years.

With stung hands and aching wrists from hand whisking my sabayon forever I sat down to lunch with my dining companions / guinea pigs. Every plate was finished and the general consensus was that the dandelion leaves were uninterestingly bitter and the nettles were nothing like the spinach flavour promised. Sorry weeds you lost this round. I would recommend Chicory, Radicchio and Spinach as better alternatives.

 

14 comments:

  1. Hello Paul:
    An interesting experiment and one which was, if clean plates are an indication, thoroughly enjoyed by your guests. Or, and now we are perhaps being overly cynical, were they just very polite?!!

    On the occasions we have eaten dandelion leaves we have found them to be very bitter indeed and would most likely avoid them in future. This probably secures our removal from your guest, if not your Christmas card, list!

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  2. You are too funny....and brave!
    XX

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  3. Dear Paul - it obviously looks much more delicious than it was. Have you tried using wild garlic leaves to make Pesto? You can make it with walnuts, use a lemon or whatever takes your fancy. However, I must say Basil leaves win out over the garlic leaves.

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  4. Oh Paul you are SO brave!! While I might consider giving dandelions a try ( my grandmother use to drink the tea!) I would never touch a nettle!! You get bonus points for trying!!

    I do love chicory though!!
    Xo
    Vicki

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  5. Dear Paul,
    some wise man wrote that in every garden grow the herbs the owner of the garden needs. Well - IF you found the above mentioned all in your garden, you should be protected against kidney complaints (dandelion) and against rheumatism (nettles). And no complaining: who said that medicine should taste delicious? Though yours certainly looked lovely!

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  6. Looks beautiful, I like the presentation. I would never have thought of eating weeds. Very nice! I am followin you.

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  7. Hi Paul: You must be a very determined person, to try and make a delicious feast out of weeds. I got so many stings from nettles as a young girl on the way to the creek that I couldn't imagine even hearing about eating them. We did eat Pigsweed though. That's what we called it anyway. It grew in the garden around the corn stalks. Tastes just like chard. So Good!! Happy Weekend..Judy

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  8. Hi There - You gave them a chance, now yank those weeds out! Go on, Paul!! BTW, your presentation looks lovely. Speaking of weeds, I need to go out and pull some...not for lunch....going straight into the trash bin. I've never composted weeds....wonder if seeds would be problematic? Thanks for your further research on weeds ;-)
    Loi

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  9. This looks very delicious dear Paul. I am scared of nettles but I would try this maybe if you cooked it!

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  10. Oh Paul, what a shame, that meal looks so appetising. When I read your post I actually thought you meant you were sitting down with your pet guinea pigs. Sounds like the furry variety might have enjoyed your lunch more!

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  11. Can I have a second helping of weeds please Paul ;)

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  12. Try nettles in soup ... they really are delicious. Dandelion leaves really need to be eaten when very young or if they have been 'blanched' under a plant pot. Give them another go ...!

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  13. Holy cow, you are some cook! They look fabulous plated too.

    Our golden retriever eats dandelion greens! As I pull them and throw them in the basket, he stands over the basket eating one after another, leaving the flowers or seedheads, just devouring the leaves.

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  14. The sabayon does sounds more interesting than hollandaise. Jem X

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