Edible Wild Plants – Recipes
Three cornered leek(garlic) – Allium triquetrum - Because of its mild sweet flavour it is best used in salads or added at the last minute to cooked dishes. Can be liquidised and added to butters. A little seaweed adds to the flavour.
Hogweed- Heracleum spondylium – Take the young shoots reminiscent of asparagus and boil lightly or fry in butter. Larger leaves can be used as a green vegetable or heated to a state of crispness. Stems may be diced and added to soups or other dishes as a replacement for carrots. Flowers may be added to cooked dishes to provide an orange cardamom flavour.
Primrose – Primula vulgaris – Leaves either cooked or in salads. Flowers used as a garnish to salads or puddings. A good spring bulker to salad dishes.
Patience Dock – Rumex parientia – Similar to curled dock. A useful vegetable. Strip leaves from stems and use with butter on toast. Stems can be used as a substitute for rhubarb in jams, crumbles and pies. Used to accompany fish dishes.
Cleavers/goosegrass – Rubiacea - Galium aparine – Leaves and stems can be steamed or added to soups and stews. Provides a mild pea-like flavour. Burrs can be harvested later and roasted to make a coffee substitute.
Alexanders – Smyrnium alustrum – Stronger flavoured than celery and can be used to flavour cooked dishes, and young leaves and chopped stems added to salads. Buds and yellow flowers can be cooked like broccoli and seeds ground and used as a condiment.
Cabbage –Brassica oleracea – Can be cropped throughout the winter and seed heads and flowers harvested in the spring to flavour salads or cooked dishes.
Dandelion – Taraxacum officianalis – Roots sliced and added to salads or cooked dishes. Roasted and ground to provide a good coffee substitute. The crown of blanched leaves immediately above the root can make a delicious addition to a salad or cooked dish. Leaves can be used in the same way or blanched to remove bitterness. Flowers recently discovered to be the most nutritious part of the plant.
Wild chervil/cow parsley/hedge parsley – Anthriscus sylvestris – A winter and early spring vegetable. Leaves may be torn and added to salads. Can replace parsley and goes well with cooked vegetables. A second crop appears in the autumn and can be overwintered.
Sweet cicely – Myrrhis odorata – The sweet flavour can be imparted to salads, sauces and cooked sweets.
The more intensely flavoured seeds may be used in the same way or used as sweets. Like the other carrot family roots, caraway, chervil, and parsley, roots may be cooked and candied.
Plantain – Family of four can be used in the same way. Buckshorn plantain in salads and stir fries. Ribwort plantain- young leaves in salads where it imparts a mushroom like flavour. Used with cheese or eggs where its mucilanous texture can be useful. Greater plantain – stronger mushroom flavour. Use young leaves, older ones can be tough. Sea plantain – has a salty flavour, young leaves in salads older leaves used as spinach.
Sea radish- Raphanus maritima – Available throughout the year. Young leaves for salads, or roasted with olive oil. Mid rib of long older leaves imparts a delicious radish flavour to salads or cooked dishes.
Sweet Violet – Viola odorata – Flowers to give sweet flavour to sugar and sorbets. Leaves provide mucilin, useful in salads or with cooked foods
Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficana – Mild flavoured addition to stronger flavours in salads. Useful addition to meat dishes, Chinese stir fry. Bulbils have a flavour reminiscent of potatoes.
Stinging Nettles –Urtica dioicia – Useful in soups, pesto, added to fish dishes or blended with cheese and pine nuts. Can be added to many dishes because of their delicate flavour and texture.
Bladder Campion- Silene vulgaris - Young leaves for salads, older leaves use bitterness when cooked, blanche, steam or stir fry. Use with scrambled eggs.
Wild fennel- Foeniculum vulgaris – Flavour much employed in cold or cooked dishes. Good with fish dishes
or cooked with other greens., cooked in stews with rice or beans.
Sea beet- Beta maritima – Said to be better than spinach in every way. Leaves can be blanched, boiled or steamed. Large leaves may have their green parts stripped from the stalk and both treated independently. Chestnuts combine well with seabeet. Use as green vegetable with meat fish dishes and added to a warmed salad.
Evening primrose –Oenothera biennis – Although mainly introduced as a root vegetable it is mainly seen to be of food value because of its large sweet flowers, useful in salads. Leaves may be used as vegetable if found to be acceptable.
Rosebay willowherb – Chamerion angustifolium – Also known as ‘fireweed’ because of its appearance on bomb sites. Used like asparagus and flowers make a decorative addition to salads Pith may be extracted later as a tasty nibble.
Red Valerian – Centhranthus rubra – Flowers can be pink or white, succulent leaves used in salads but best blended with other ingredients to disguise the strong taste.
Other useful young leaves for salads - Blackberry – Hawthorn – Beech – Grape – Small leaf lime.