Ok, there are a bunch of edible weeds out there, our ancestors used them, they provided for medicine and sustainment and we should rediscover the possibilities.
But how do you use them?
Diego Bonetto is creating Wildfood Store, a marketplace for the by-product of farming: weeds. This sounds good, forward thinking and inventive, but the common thread that keeps surfacing is that people do not know what to do with them.
These plants might be super nutritious, and super healthy, but they are also quite strong tasting, commonly fibrous and bitter.. This is definitely not a flavour that stays in the background of your meat meal (i.e. iceberg lettuce or spinach leaves).
This week while in Kandos to catch up with the Mid West Harvesting Hub Diego participated in a couple of events to look into the nitty gritty of cooking with weeds: a pot luck dinner at the Cementa Art Residency and a forage and feast event at Skimstone winery in collaboration with local chef Rebecca Sutton.
We had fun and ate amazingly well, engaged with the produce in creative ways and came out with a couple of recipes too. Below I share one that I co-created with Marnee Fox, with whom I offer events in Sydney. Easy, yummy and the wild produce that you need for it is just outside your door: wild fennel and wild mallow
1 fresh whole butternut pumpkin de-skinned and chopped into small chunks
2 brown onions chopped
250ml sour cream optional (leave out for vegan)
4 cups of Mallow leaves de stalked & chopped
Wild brassica flowers to garnish if available
2 tbsp Wild Fennel seeds
1 litre of vegetable or chicken liquid stock
Water to top up liquid to cover pumpkin
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Put chopped pumpkin, onion, stock and water into a large pot
2. Bring to boil then add Mallow & Fennel seeds
3. Simmer on low heat until pumpkin is very soft. Test with a fork.
4. Add sour cream, salt & pepper then blend with a stick mixer
5. Garnish with Mallow flower if available and enjoy the wintery goodness
And here below a visual report from the event at Skimstone Winery.