Free for all: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s foraged wild greens recipes
I’ve done a lot of travelling in the past year or so. I’ve found myself on a boat, pitching through the wild waters of Antarctica, and I’ve sweltered in the steamy heat of Thailand and the Philippines. I’ve relaxed with my family in France, and spent some inspiring canada goose coat – hybridge lite days with groundbreaking young chefs in Denmark. Sojourns such as these, whether for work or pleasure, are always a privilege and I don’t think I’ve passed through any place that hasn’t left some mark on my cooking.
But one of the trips I love best is the journey home. Being in a familiar place and settling back into routines is more than comforting; it’s the essence of life. We all draw strength from our home and hearth, and from the environment and landscape we know best. Seeing the seasons change in are there any canada goose outlet stores a place you know and understand, and repeating the little rituals that mark those turning days, make us feel rooted and safe. It’s very hard to go adventuring if you don’t have a secure base to start with.
One thing I make time for every year, no matter how busy I am, is a little springtime foraging. Even if it’s only a few exploratory rambles, this is a non-negotiable part of my annual schedule. It’s long been my belief that wild food you’ve gathered yourself is mind-broadening, confidence-boosting and soul-enriching, and the great thing about spring foraging is that it’s so easy – everything is average cost canada goose jacket shooting, budding and generally advertising itself. Plus, early season growth is often sweet and tender, the cream of the crop.
I often find myself writing about nettles at this time of year – a very canada goose coat 1000 bulbs reviews easy and enjoyable task, since they remain one of my all-time favourite wild foods. Like so many of our plants, they seem to appear earlier and earlier each spring, so I’m already a few weeks into my nettle season. I’ve been blitzing them into soups and chopping them into risottos, and maybe next I’ll use them like spinach in dishes such as spanakopitta. However, abundant, delicious and health-giving as they may be, nettles are by no means the only wild plant that is easy to find, simple to cook and good to eat. So this spring, whether you’re a foraging rookie or a seasoned pro best cheap canada goose, I urge you to get out there and expand your wild greens repertoire.
The three wild plants I’ve focused on this week are among the most widespread and accessible edible spring greens you’re likely to find in the British Isles. There are many more, of course, everything from young chickweed shoots (great in salads) to tiny, butter-yellow broom buds (ace in a stir-fry) and deliciously bitter young dandelion leaves. There are several books that will guide you on a sortie to seek out these and other wild treats – among my favourites are Richard Mabey’s classic Food For Free, and my friend and colleague John Wright’s River Cottage Hedgerow Handbook and Edible Seashore Handbook.
Alexanders (that’s the singular as well as the plural) is one of the best wild vegetables of spring, and unusual in that it’s the fleshy young stem, not the leaf, that’s of interest. This statuesque, easy-to-spot plant is widespread, but thrives especially in coastal regions in the south. Look for it at roadsides (though pick as far from the road as you can). Cut the stems close to the ground, best price for canada goose jacket then at home strip them of their tougher outer layer and celery-like stringy fibres. Steam or boil until tender, which takes only a few minutes, and serve simply buttered and seasoned. The flavour is aromatic, fragrant – a little musky, a touch juniper-ish.
Sea beet, or sea spinach, is the genetic ancestor of beetroot, chard and perpetual spinach, and shares similar thick, pointed leaves and firm stems. As the name suggests, it’s usually found by the coast, and at pretty much any point around our shores. Its glossy, fleshy leaves – sometimes red-tinged – and, in summer, waving flower-spikes will probably be a familiar sight if you’ve ever spent any time walking near the sea. The leaves are an excellent vegetable and can be served in just about any recipe that calls for cooked spinach. Picked young, juicy best price for canada goose jacket and glossy, you may well decide it’s the best spinach you’ve ever tasted.
Wild garlic, meanwhile, is one of my favourite foraging finds. Also known as ramsons, bear garlic and stinking jenny, its pungent allium scent will lead you to it before you see it. Damp, shady, wooded places are the best hunting grounds, and it grows all over the UK. It’s a pretty plant, with long, tulip-like leaves and tiny, white, starry flowers. Where it’s really abundant, you can dig it up and eat the little bulbs, too, but I prefer best ideas about canada goose outlet on pinterest to harvest handfuls of the leaves, which have a delicately garlicky flavour. Use raw in salads or cook them lightly – try shredding and adding to soups, risottos or omelettes, always towards the end of cooking, to preserve their flavour. Alternatively, use them raw in a pesto (see my recipe below).
Whether it’s just one of these plants that takes your fancy, or all of them, I hope you’ll embark on a little adventure close to home, and have a few wild green feasts this spring.
Creamed sea beet gratin
You can also make this with spinach. It’s especially good alongside sausages or black pudding. Serves four as a side dish.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper500g sea beet, stalks removed (unless they are very tender, in which case leave them on), washedAbout 50g coarse breadcrumbsAbout 50g grated cheddar (or other flavoursome cheese)
For the béchamel500ml whole milk1 bay leafA wedge of onion35g butter35g plain flour
Bring a pan of water to a boil and salt it lightly. Drop the sea beet into the boiling water, cook for two to three minutes and drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out all the water, then chop coarsely.
Put the milk in a pan with the bay leaf and onion. Bring to just below boiling, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. When melted and bubbling, stir in the flour to make a smooth roux. Let this bubble over a gentle canada goose coat 1000 calorie diet heat for about three minutes, then remove from the heat, add a quarter of the warm milk (if it’s cooled right down, reheat it gently before you add it) and beat vigorously to form a smooth paste. Add another quarter of the milk and beat again until smooth. Repeat with the remaining milk. When you have a smooth sauce, return the pan to the heat and simmer buy canada goose jacket online cheap gently, stirring often, for four to five minutes.
Heat the grill to medium. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the sea beet and season to taste. Spread the mixture in a shallow ovenproof dish, scatter with the breadcrumbs and cheese, and grill until golden and bubbling. Serve straight away.
Wild garlic and walnut pesto
Fresh pesto is always so much more delicious than a shop-bought one. Toss this into hot pasta, swirl it into a vegetable soup, use on bruschetta or crostini, or serve with roast veg. These quantities make enough for pasta sauce for four.
50g shelled walnuts
About 75g wild garlic leaves and stems, washed and roughly chopped
35g parmesan (or other hard, mature cheese), finely grated
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon, plus a good squeeze of lemon juice
100-150ml extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put the nuts in an ovenproof dish and toast for five to eight minutes, checking from time to time because they burn easily. Leave to cool.
Put the toasted nuts in a food processor, along with the wild garlic, parmesan and lemon zest. Blitz to a paste, then, with the motor running, slowly add the oil until you have a thick, sloppy purée. Scrape this into a bowl, add a squeeze of lemon and season to taste. This pesto will keep in a jar in the fridge for a few days.
These are a real delight. Serves two as a starter.
200g prepared alexanders stems or shoots (ie, from around 8-10 stems)Knob of butterSea salt and freshly ground black pepper
With a small, sharp knife, peel away the outer membrane and stringy fibres from the alexanders stems. Trim the ends, then cut the stems into 10-12cm lengths. Put in a steaming basket or sieve suspended over a pan of boiling water, cover and cook for five to 10 minutes, until they are tender and can be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
Once cooked, toss gently with a large knob of butter, a little salt and lots of pepper, and serve.