Girl Gone Wild

Welcome to the Brazen Kitchen, where greens are the new black.


Garlic Mustard and Stinging Nettle Pesto with Roasted Walnuts

Overheard at the Whole Foods parking lot: “What? You joined a CSA? That’s so great! And so 1999. I just joined a CSF.”

CSF? You know, Community Supported Foraging. And don’t say ramps. That’s so 2011. I’m talking about really wild stuff. Like that knotweed that’s threatening to take over your yard or the dandelion and purslane that you mercilessly pull out. But wait, don’t throw those out — there’s a reason nature makes them grow, especially this time of the year. These hardy plants are nutrient-dense food and have amazing cleansing effects (which is why they pop up in the spring — prime time for detoxification!)

For example, knotweed is a prime source of resveratrol (you know, your “health” excuse for drinking red wine) and according to Melissa Sokulski of Food Under Foot (from whom I get my CSF from), most resveratrol supplements are actually from knotweed extracts! Purslane is a mainstay of many world cuisines and is the plant source with the highest concentration of EPA Omega-3s. More simply, it’s the same Omega-3 found in fish. And those dandelions? It’s a bitter green that not only adds character to your salads and meals, it’s also a liver detoxifier. If you like arugula and watercress, you’ll love dandelions.

But not all wild edibles are weeds that most people want to get rid of. Some of them, like morels, are foragers’ prizes in the woods.

Local company Food Under Foot has amazing guides and descriptions of the taste of each wild edible on their website. They also hold wild edible walks throughout the city.

But the best thing about learning more about wild edibles? Just think of it. It’s 2012. If the Mayans are right, you’ll still be able to create gourmet meals post-apocalypse by harvesting in the woods. Or if you think we’re heading for dystopian Panem, you can throw a party without having to spear squirrels. I bet you can make some killer crepes with some chickweed and that tessera grain (see recipe below).

Seriously, learning about wild edibles is a great culinary frontier to explore. Get out there, forage, and throw a wild party you can invite your parents to.

I had so much fun with my first CSF share that I want to share a couple of my favorite recipes from my maiden journey into the wild.

Garlic Mustard and Stinging Nettle Pesto with Roasted Walnuts

Yield: About 1 1/2-2 cups
My motto with greens is “when in doubt, pesto.” I think its one of the best ways to prepare a newly encountered green to appreciate its full flavor. And this combination did not disappoint. I used roasted walnuts to round out and deepen the flavor even more and lemons provided a beautiful counterbalancing brightness.

2-3 cups garlic mustard leaves
1 cup packed blanched stinging nettle leaves*
3/4 cup roasted walnuts
4 cloves garlic
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 T lemon juice
zest of 1/2 a lemon (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add more oil to desired consistency (mine was more like a paste). Season with salt and pepper.

*Stinging nettles.....sting. Blanching removes the sting. Boil some water, add a little bit of salt and blanch the nettles for about 5 minutes. Wear gloves when harvesting and when dropping them into the boiling water.

Chickweed Crepes

Yield: 8 8-inch crepes
This crepe recipe is based on a great find from The Canary Files, one of my favorite blogs. It’s a very forgiving crepe batter that will work with a variety of flours. Its a great way to expand your grain quotient.

1/4 c non-dairy milk beverage
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Flour mix**
1/4 c quinoa flour
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon chickpea flour
2 T millet flour

**Use the above or any combination of flours - try brown rice flour, spelt, or an all-purpose GF flour mix. I like keeping a high-protein flour such as chickpea flour or quinoa flour in the mix as it provides some heft (and of course, protein)

3/4 c arrowroot starch
1/2 t ground flax seeds
1/4 t salt
1 t coconut palm sugar or turbinado sugar
3/4 to 1 c chopped chickweed

8 oz or 1 c cool vegetable stock/water
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Your choice of filling (optional) - sauteed mushrooms, cheese, more chopped chickweed, other fresh seasonal vegetables

1.  Start by making your non-dairy "buttermilk."  Combine non-dairy milk and vinegar and allow to sit and curdle for a few minutes.

2.  Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and give them a good whisk to both aerate and evenly distribute.  Gradually add the water. He noted that "It may become difficult to stir at moments, but keep stirring and eventually you will reach a very slack, runny consistency." I didn't run into this.

3.  Add curdled milk, and once combined, drizzle in olive oil as you stir briskly.  It will be very liquid, which is precisely where it should be. Add the chopped chickweed.

4.  Cover and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.  If you need to leave it for longer, it's perfectly fine to transfer it to the refrigerator.  Allow batter to come to room temperature before cooking.

5.  After resting and allowing the flours and starches to bloom, the batter, while still slack, should be a little thicker. Don't fret if you feel like its just too runny. Have faith. If the batter has some settling, just mix again with a whisk.

7.  Heat a small, non-stick pan over medium heat and grease it lightly with oil. I used my well-seasoned cast iron skillet.

8.  Once the pan is hot, pour 1/4 cup of batter in the center of the pan. Swirl the pan to distribute the batter as thinly as possible. Its not very important to make perfect circles, in my opinion. You will roll them or fold them up anyway. And you can call it “rustic” right?

9.  About 10-15 seconds in, you'll notice large dome-like bubbles inflating underneath the crepe. (Great photos here) After about 1 minute, the edges will be sturdy and you can gently lift up one side with a spatula and either flip the crepe with your hand or with the spatula.  The cooked side should be a pale golden brown.  Allow it cook for about 20 seconds more on the other side and then transfer from pan to plate.

If you are filling the crepe, fill it right after you flip it. Then fold it in half. The crepes pictured are filled with a light sprinkling of non-dairy cheese.

Want more Brazen Kitchen? Read the Manifesto, follow @BrazenKitchen on Twitter or visit brazenkitchen.com for more recipes.

More from Brazen Kitchen:

The '50 Shades of Grey' Menu

The '50 Shades of Grey' Menu

Here’s the top 5 natural foods to keep the, um, “fire” going.
How to Be a Locavore Lush

How to Be a Locavore Lush

Brazen Kitchen: Elizabeth Gilgunn of Slow Cooked Pittsburgh shows us how to drink, um, sustainably.
Learning to Love Rhubarb

Learning to Love Rhubarb

Surprise: You don’t always need to pair it with a lot of sugar.
Reimagining the Perfect Childhood Breakfast

Reimagining the Perfect Childhood Breakfast

This Mothers' Day, impress mum with a cereal milk panna cotta with caramelized cornflakes and strawberry puree.

Hot Reads

Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

PittGirl has had enough of the criticism of fanatics and asks the media to stop labeling everyone.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.
8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

Hoping to take a leaf-peeping road trip? Keep food at the top of your priority list and consult our lineup of eight destinations, most within 150 miles of the city.

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Tomorrow Night Chic Pups Will Take to the New Hazlett for a Fashion Show

Tomorrow Night Chic Pups Will Take to the New Hazlett for a Fashion Show

The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council will present its ArtDOG kickoff, ‘unleashing’ serious doggie swag and style.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 8 Best (Not) Restaurants in Pittsburgh

The 8 Best (Not) Restaurants in Pittsburgh

Food trucks. Pizza boats. Bagel Clubs. The best on-the-run food in town.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
The Steeler Way is a Figment of Our Imagination

The Steeler Way is a Figment of Our Imagination

After another embarrassing incident, PittGirl says it’s time for Steelers fans to face the truth.

Comments


Award-winning sports commentary by Sean Conboy
R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

Fire Bylsma? Fire Shero? The Penguins' problems run deeper.

Comments


Meat & Potatoes Executive Chef Richard DeShantz Cooks a Vegetarian Dinner

Meat & Potatoes Executive Chef Richard DeShantz Cooks a Vegetarian Dinner

This past weekend, the culinary maven took over Churchview Farm, which presents a series of can’t-miss dinners.

Comments


Your New Pre-Game Bar is in Dormont

Your New Pre-Game Bar is in Dormont

Forget the parking and the mad North Shore rush. Before you head to Heinz Field, make a stop at Cain's Saloon then head for the T.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Checkmate!

Checkmate!

Use these bookends to keep your office area looking smart.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Local Blogger Wants to Help You Make Something 'Seriously Delish'

Local Blogger Wants to Help You Make Something 'Seriously Delish'

Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats will release her cookbook this fall.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
Time to See Ballet Under the Stars

Time to See Ballet Under the Stars

This weekend, the PBT presents its annual production at Hartwood Acres under the night sky.

Comments