Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Forage Not Too Far (or, "There's Gnome Place Like Home...")

There's little I like more than a full-fledged, woods-and-stream foraging and fishing outing, even if I do sometimes succumb to doubts about the overall "green-ness" of the activity (see previous post). But there's also something uniquely satisfying about walking out one's back door and harvesting a plateful of fresh, flavorful green things of the springtime. This is green foraging in every possible way.

In the bowl there, under Gnomie's watchful eye, there are fiddleheads of ostrich ferns, lamb's quarter, dandelion greens, volunteer purple mustard and a couple of kinds of lettuce, some tiny sorrel leaves, and a few snips of volunteer dill. The only thing there that we actually planted for food is the sorrel, which adds its delightful, tart zing to early spring salads, and to autumn
sauces for trout . (Through the summer we just keep deadheading the seed heads, so that we still have sorrel in the fall.) It's a very hardy perennial; since I've forgotten how long ago I planted it, I now consider picking sorrel leaves a kind of foraging.

The fiddleheads I washed thoroughly to remove the papery husk, blanched them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then sautéed them in butter with some ramps. They're served alongside an omelet (Schultz organic eggs) topped with home-smoked brown trout and Roth Kase gruyere.

Teresa's beautiful bowl makes any salad prettier, tastier, and is a fitting vessel for this salad of wild and volunteer greens tossed with a dressing enlivened with chives and the first tender fragrant sprouts of tarragon.

Text and photos copyright 2009 by Brett Laidlaw


LC said...

I'm eager to try your ostrich fern fiddlheads, Brett. we get the lady fern out here in the PacNW, which I suspect is inferior to the ostrich. Still nice to have though. I just pickled a couple pounds of 'em. Thanks for the lambsquarters reminder. They should be up by now.

Trout Caviar said...

Hi Lang: I like a few servings of fiddleheads each spring. My wife is less keen on them. Haven't tried pickling them, thanks for that suggestion. I'd better act fast if I want to try it this year--with temps in the 90s the last couple of days, they'll be unfurling furiously!

Lamb's quarter, my god! I have forests of the stuff. Apparently I let last year's crop go to seed, and it's everywhere. You can grind the seeds into flour, I've read. It's an underrated wild food plant, I think, tasty and versatile.

Cheers~ Brett