10 Wild Food Menu Ideas – Part 2 of 2

| March 5, 2013

fiddleheadThis is part 2 of a two part series called “10 Wild Food Menu Ideas.” Click here for part 1.

6. Fiddlehead Ferns– These tightly coiled, early young unfurled fronds of various species of wild ferns which sprout in the spring have long been considered to be a rare delicacy among aficionados of gourmet foods.

They’re named for their similarity in shape to the scroll-like carvings found atop the necks of violins or fiddles.

Their flavor has been compared to that of asparagus, artichokes and even green beans, and they have an earthiness and even a slight bitterness to them.

Even if you’re not able to harvest your own fiddlehead ferns, you can often find them available seasonally in the spring at farmers markets, gourmet shops, or perhaps even in the produce section of a well stocked grocery store.

Fiddleheads can be prepared much like any other fresh vegetable, and are tasty steamed, stir fried, sauteed, added to soups, stews or casseroles, or even used in an omelet.

7. Anchovies – An essential ingredient in the classic Caesar dressing and salad, these tiny oily fleshed fish are not only packed with flavor, bu they’re also a fantastic source of omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Since they’re such small fish, anchovies are near the bottom of the food chain and their diet consists mainly of marine phytoplankton and fish fry. This makes them, along with other tiny wild fish such as sardines and herring, much less likely to harbor harmful levels of contaminants such as mercury, which bio-accumulate up the food chain and are therefore likelier to be present in any significant quantities in the flesh of larger, predatory fish.

Canned anchovies have a much stronger taste and smell than fresh ones, but both pair well in preparations that include very simple ingredients such as fresh garlic and shallots, fresh herbs like parsley and chives, fresh lemon juice, and butter and/or high quality, fruity olive oil.

8. Chanterelle mushrooms – A rich orange-yellow color with a funnel-like shape and free for the taking in forests around the world including North America, Europe, Asia and even Africa, these wild mushrooms are some of the most delectable and abundant of Mother Nature’s wild food gifts.

Containing vitamin C, some B vitamins, and a rich source of both potassium and vitamin D2, chanterelles have a meaty texture and a distinctive, earthy flavor. And depending on where they grow, they may sometimes also have woodsy, fruity, or even peppery or spicy flavors.

Like most all culinary mushrooms, chanterelles are delicious when prepared simply, sliced and sauteed in butter with some fresh herbs, but also make a great addition to soups and stews, or paired with eggs.

9. Lobster – Freshly boiled or steamed, a morsel of fresh lobster meat simply dipped into a ramekin of drawn butter has been one of the most prized of all wild culinary delights among discerning gastrophiles for ages.

Lobster is also famous for its use in classic recipes such as Lobster Newberg, Lobster Thermador, as well as in soups, chowders and bisque.

Its flavor is rich, meaty and buttery, and it’s chock full of protein, rich in potassium and magnesium, and also contains vitamins A, various B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.

10. Stinging Nettle leaves – One of my favorite harbingers of the spring season, fresh young stinging nettle leaves start sprouting and showing themselves in many areas around and after the spring equinox, and can often be found growing in the shade near streams, around ponds or lakes, or in marshy areas.

Nettle is both a valuable medicinal herb as well as a really tasty culinary green. It’s identified by its green serrated edge heart shaped leaves and its signature tiny needle-like stinging barbs which grow both on the undersides of the leaves as well as along the plant’s stem.

These stinging ‘trichomes’ are incredibly sharp, and if touched or even brushed against, will immediately inject a cocktail of chemicals into the skin that causes painful inflamed raised red bumps that can linger for hours or even days.

Used as an herb nettle leaves can be tinctured, but are most often infused to make a tea that’s said to help ward off the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

As a food, nettle leaves can be used much like spinach or chard. They can be steamed; they’re great sauteed in butter or olive oil with some garlic; they can be made into a soup; or be pureed with pine nuts, garlic and olive oil to make a scrumptious and nourishing pesto.

To minimize the possibility of getting stung, the way I like to harvest nettles is with a large paper bag and a pair of sharp snips. Having a pair of heavy leather or sturdy garden gloves on hand can also be helpful

I look for healthy, clean, young leaves that are free from any insect damage, hold the bag under the leaves I want to harvest, then simply snip the plant part way down the stem so the leave fall into the bag.

When I get my nettles home, wear a heavy glove on one hand to handle the leaves, and snip away the stems with the other hand.

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Category: Being in Nature, Communion With Nature, Fish | Seafood, Human Health, Medicinal Herbs, Medicinal Mushrooms | Culinary, Nourishment, Vitamins, Wild Foods | Herbs

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