Here is something we found growing under our apple tree, with a few bits from the rockeries and surround. Free food! And highly nutritious leaves. Like gifts from the ground, they come to grace our garden with edible happiness.
This may well be rabbit food to some, but these leaves are actually nutritional powerhouses. They are full of calcium, protein and iron, minerals and also have bags of vitamins. The only thing they really lack is carbs (but some people quite like the idea of that anyway). Gorillas, elephants, buffaloes, the strongest creatures on the planet eat leaves. Not just for rabbits! Leaves (with a nice dressing) are meal in themselves.
Primroses are everywhere at the moment, and although they are not particularly nutritious, they make salads look amazing. Primroses carpet our garden every spring, so when we found out we could eat them, it was a good moment. I am thinking Primrose Tempura soon?
Dandelions are best in spring and early summer and the leaves should be picked preferably before there is a flower. The leaves are really bitter when the flowers have bloomed.
Sorrel is a real trooper and thrives like a weed. It has such a distinct flavour, like a very bitter apple, that is best used sparingly in a salad. Just one leaf per mouthful will give you a really pleasing zing! Sorrel grows everywhere and is easily harvested, the leaves are very distinct and even older leaves taste lovely.
Always forage in areas that are away from industrial agriculture, train lines….generally clean and natural spaces. Nasty chemicals, pesticides etc can be present on plants close to these places. Remember that if industrial waste etc has been dumped in the ground, pollutants will be absorbed by the ground (and subsequently the plants).
THE BEACH HOUSE GARDEN
The weather has actually been quite nice recently, so we’ve been out in the garden getting our hands mucky. The veg patches are ready for action and all of our seeds are in the planter of strooned around the house. We are growing all sorts this year; a few varieties of beetroot, fennel, salad leaves, rocket, cauliflower, kale, chard, cabbage….radish. We’ll see what pops up! No potatoes this year as we had a bit of blight last year and think its best to leave this fallow for a while.
Our fruit trees seem to have had a good winter and our new rowan is hanging in their. Raspberries have blossomed and we’re looking forward to them! Also our wold strawberries are looking mighty fine. The herb garden has taken a wallop and will need some tlc. Rosemary is indestructible! May is my birthday month, so we have a new tree lined up. A Snowdon Pear Tree, the fruit has dark green skin with a light pink centre and a feint fennel taste. Wow!
Our friend Shira is the real inspiration for this salad. She has been going through our foraging books and identifying all the local plants that we can munch on. There are so many and its only April/ May. We are looking forward to raiding the hedgrerows and fields this year and seeing what we can find. Plenty of sloe gin, blackberry whiskey, rosehip cordial, elderberry jam, elderflower cordial etc. Not to mention much fun and games with gooseberries. We will hopefully sniff out some edible mushrooms this year, we’ve been tipped off about a special little place. Maybe a cep or two for the pot?!
We love this time of year, nature is waking up and the earth is warm again.
The Bits – For 4 (as a side salad)
2 handfuls primrose flowers
3 handfuls sorrel
3 handfuls dandelion leaves
4 handfuls young spinach leaves
2 handfuls red cabbage (grated)
Apple and Mustard Dressing
5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbs apple juice concentrate
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic (crushed)
sea salt and pepper (to taste)
Wash and drain the leaves well (use a salad spinner for best results). Gently toss all the leaves together and arrange on a nice big plate. Scatter the flowers over the salad in a pleasing design.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
With a small jug of dressing on the side, some fresh bread and maybe something like bean puree/ hummus would be nice.
Dandelion leaves are hugely nutritious, they are very high in calcium and iron. In fact they have more calcium than kale and more protein than spinach. They are also full of anti-oxidants, mainly vitamin C and A. They are also great for supporting the liver, the ultimate detox green!