When someone mentions foraging to me, more often than not, they are referring to going deep in to the woods with a basket looking for the non-poisonous mushrooms and berries! They certainly wouldn’t do it on their own without a trained forager – oh no, there’s far too much danger lurking out there!
There is definitely a fear to forage but there really doesn’t need to be. The definition of foraging is “a wide search over an area to obtain something, especially food provisions.” I’d actually say that you don’t even need to search over a wide area. I just step out in to my garden!
I am currently surrounded by a glut of parsley at the moment – OK, I know it’s planted but it’s taken over my garden and it certainly felt like foraging to collect it! On my dog walk I collected heaps of wild garlic recently and I’ve also noticed that nettles are, well, everywhere! This is all free food and who doesn’t like free food?
Now for the clever bit – what to do in the kitchen with this glut of free food. Here’s a few ideas…
Nettles: To collect them, do wear some gloves (I find washing up gloves are good for this job) wash the nettles well before cooking or seep them in hot water to remove the stings – this is nettle tea already made! One of my favourite things to do with nettles is to make a soup – so many variations out there – don’t be afraid to experiment. The flavour is very similar to spinach and it’s also up there as a superfood – also known for its detoxifying properties. Give it a try.
Wild garlic: chop up finely and add to mayonnaise for a garlic twist, make a wild garlic pesto, add it to quiche (as you would spinach), serve wilted as a side vegetable with a steak, chop up and make a herb crumb for adding to fish or chicken. My favourite has to be wild garlic gnocchi – it’s really simple to make and a total crowd pleaser – here’s the recipe
Parsley: Add to a little water and pop in an ice cube tray to bring out whenever you want to add parsley to sauces or soups. Make a wonderful crust for fish by chopping and mixing with lemon juice, toasted bread crumbs and seasoning and try a dairy free pesto for something really moorish – just pop a clove of garlic, a handful of parsley, walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning into a blender and serve as a dip or with pasta is delicious too.
The wonderful thing about foraging, even if it is just in your garden is the sense of satisfaction it gives you – it forces you to be a bit creative in the kitchen but it’s always well worth the effort. Every season has something different to offer and no-one needs to be afraid to forage! Go on – get out there!