Over the past couple of months I've been trying to educate myself about the joy of foraging. Here are my findings so far:
- I use the word 'joy' advisedly - there is something very special and satisfying about gathering your food from the wild. Even my stepsons have changed from quietly suspicious, to enthusiastic taste testers - it's weeds for tea again tonight boys!
- It's free! (with all the usual caveats about getting the landowner's permission etc).
- The food is as fresh as it could be and full of nutrients. (Would this be a good time to repeat the 'don't eat anything unless you're SURE you know what it is' mantra?).
- Lastly - the words 'rare' and 'special delicacy' are okay if you're hunting for fabulously expensive truffles, or working as a Danish foraging pixie at Noma, but if you need to get the tea on the table after work then 'abundant' and 'invasive weed' is what you're after. Preferably close to your back door, rather than requiring a special trip to a distant beauty spot.
With that last point in mind, my eye fell upon the particularly lush patch of weeds that flourishes around the beehives at work. The uniquely uncomfortable combination of ear defenders and bee protection headgear means that it doesn't get strimmed very often. A quick shuffle through my reference books revealed that the three things growing there in profusion were ideal candidates for a wild greens recipe.
Anyone who has ever looked at books about wild food or heritage vegetables will be familiar with the words 'an acceptable substitute for spinach'. So harnessing the spirit of my inner elderly Greek woman, (the one that's usually squashed underneath the 6' kiwi bird), I gathered a generous bag full of greens to make hortakopita. That's the wild food version of the greek spinach and feta pie, spanakopita.
had to sneak over the fence to avoid upsetting the bees
here's the greens after I washed them
steamed, squeezed, chopped and mixed with feta cheese
Verdict: Delicious - and all the better for growing right on my doorstep.
I used store bought puff pastry rather than filo to speed up the proceedings.