I’d always admired people who eat wild vegetables. No water gets pumped and no gas is drilled to get those plants to the market. But as an immigrant without a horticultural bent, I needed guidance. Fortunately I had expert teachers: Green Prophet’s own Miriam Kresh, and Sarah Melamed, who writes Foodbridge. Miriam has taught me about both wild and cultivated plants over the years, and I recently went on a nature hike with both Sarah and Miriam.
I finally feel confident enough to identify some plants that I can collect and eat.
Today I’ll share five easily available, edible plants. In Israel, look in any green spot a lawnmower won’t reach.
My children, being natives, have known about the one above for a long time. It’s called a chamtzutz or a chamtzitz, and the long stems are tangy and juicy. In English it’s known as cape sorrel.
This dark green one on the right is called hibeza, or mallow in English. My first-grader learned in school to describe it as “palm-shaped.” Chop it, stems and all, for soup, or if you want, stuff large leaves with meat or rice. It has a mild flavor.
All wild plants need to be washed and examined carefully for dirt and insects.
The small, spade-shaped leaves on the left are chickweed. They add a salty flavor to salad. Here Miriam explains how to cultivate and use chickweed.
The long, spindly leaves on the right are olesh, or chicory. There are many similar plants so it’s hard to be sure, but Miriam ssured me I won’t get poisoned if I pick the wrong one (at least in this case). They taste slightly bitter raw. Check out her recipe for chicory sauteed with onions.
This last one is my favorite: Sirpad, or nettle. Its thin thorns make it hard to handle so I protected my hands with a bag. The ones in the picture below are full of insect holes, so I left them alone. In the center, you can see the early buds. Pick nettles before the flowers are brown and dry. At home, use gloves to separate the leaves from the thick center stem. After soaking and checking for bugs nettles are a tasty addition to a vegetable or meaty broth, and my kids agreed. You can also chop them to add to any recipe including soup, casseroles, or grains.
See more great posts on Green Prophet by Hannah Katsman:
Hannah’s website on frugal cooking can be found at CookingManager.Com