Gardening in a small space sometimes leaves me feeling envy for the the expansive veggie gardens and fruit orchards that I seem to see on endless magazine pages and websites. My new home doesn’t have much room for a backyard garden and not a lick of room for one in the front. I have to pick and choose what I want to grow very carefully, be it things I love but are hard to find at the market, or veggies that just taste a whole lot better when picked fresh. I was just thinking about this today as I get ready to start my vegetable seeds and then I read an article in Martha Stewart Living’s March 2013 issue about professional forager, Tama Matsuoka Wong. Fascinating!
I’ve often been interested in foraging, and have certainly gone on my fair share of mushroom hunts, but this is a great way to augment my limited garden production. I love that Tama not only collects a variety of wild edibles for restaurants but also teaches school children this skill. Tama has a new book out, Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer’s Market (Clarkson Potter, 2012), that I’ll be rushing to pick up. Particularly when I can see the range of edibles she describes.
This “glossary of greens” is described in the article as “flavors that range from sweet to savory, tart to nutty, all found in the underbrush of a New Jersey meadow”. I know many of these “weeds” well as they grow around my garden and usually just end up in the compost bin. Clockwise from top: garlic mustard, wild garlic, lavender bergamot, chickweed, mugwort, cardamine, wood sorrel, dead nettle, garlic pennycress. Center: dandelion (top), henbit (bottom).
I’m also quite intrigued by the wild greens ravioli and mugwort soup recipes that were shared. The Ravioli in particular has got my chops watering but before I run off to forage for ingredients, I’ll share the recipe here.
Wild Herb Ravioli
Recipes adapted from Foraged Flavor, by Tama Matsuoka Wong with Eddy Leroux (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2012), republished with permission from Martha Stewart Living.
Active Time 40 MIN. Total Time 45 MIN.
Makes 36 Ravioli Serves 6
Egg-roll wrappers make these a snap to prepare.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1½ ounces chickweed or spinach, stems removed (2 cups)
- 1 ounce deadnettle or henbit tops, including flowers, or spinach, stems removed (1½ cups)
- 1 ounce wild garlic greens or chives, cut into ½- to 1-inch lengths (¾ cup), plus more for garnish
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 ounces ricotta cheese (¼ cup)
- 2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan (½ cup),
- plus more for sprinkling
- 18 egg-roll wrappers (about 8 inches square)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chickweed, deadnettle, and wild garlic greens and cook until bright green and softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in ricotta and Parmesan with a rubber spatula. Let cool.
2. Place 9 wrappers on a work surface. On each wrapper, mound 4 separate teaspoonfuls of filling in a grid 2 inches from edges. Dip a finger in water and trace a circle around each mound of filling. Place remaining 9 wrappers on top; press to seal. Cut out 36 ravioli with a 2-inch ring cutter.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add oil. Cook ravioli until al dente, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain well. Serve topped with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and a sprinkling of Parmesan and garlic greens.
For the mugwort soup recipe and to read more about Tama and her fascinating world as a professional forager, pick up the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living. All photos from Foraged Flavor by Colin Clark and were reprinted with permission from Martha Stewart Living.