This is part two of a two-part series. Make sure to read part one here, Urban Foraging for Food Under the Cherry Blossoms.
As part of their spring exhibition S’Long As It’s Yours (February 23 – May 31, 2013), Gallery Aferro invited several artists to create performances and interactive events. One of these artists, Moira Williams, is giving away free windowbox planters to Newark residents, and leading activities such as urban foraging walks and seed exchanges based at or near the gallery.
After several hours foraging, we returned to Gallery Aferro to cook the vegetation we had picked. The greens were cut, cleaned, and separated, then sorted for the plants to be eaten raw in a salad and those that would be cooked. Cooking ingredients included sesame seeds, salad dressing, olive oil, salt and pepper, coconut oil (cooks at a higher temperature and tastes like coconuts), and almond coconut butter. Poor Man’s Pepper, chickweeds, and garlic mustards were chopped and served as a raw salad, mixed with sesame seeds dressing.
Wild onions’ stems and bulbs, garlic mustards, dandelions, and poor man’s peppers were sautéed in a saucepan for approximately 10 minutes. After cooked wild rice was mixed in, it was served. Dandelion roots were chopped and dipped in the almond butter mix, and cooked at higher temperature in the coconut oil.
The taste was amazingly flavorful, and we couldn’t distinguish between a chef’s exotic green salad with an expensive menu price or the homemade salad made from wild urban greens found nearly in our backyard.
If this is something you are interested in, especially how you can tell the right plants through photographs, there is a book entitled Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer’s Market. The book has 88 delicious, green recipes. The author, Tama Matsuoka Wong, of Hunterdon County New Jersey, discusses foraging in spring and what you can pick in the wild to use in your kitchen. You can also go to her website Meadow and More for more plant ID and descriptions. Also, you can watch her YouTube video here entitled “How I Did Less and Ate Better, Thanks to Weeds.”
Now you can find weeds around you that can enhance your culinary experience for free. Before you automatically pull out a nuisance weed in your garden, check out what it is.
The weed could be more nutritional and tastier than what you are planting. So don’t judge a book or in this case a weed by its cover. Life and eating habits changing, you might be encroaching on tomorrow’s culinary delicacies.
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